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Autonomic Dysreflexia

Autonomic Dysreflexia:

Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD) is a potentially life threatening condition which can be considered medical emergency requiring immediate attention. AD occurs most often in spinal cord-injured individuals with spinal lesions above the T6 spinal cord level, although it has been known to occur in patients with a lesion as low as T10. [1]

This condition is distinct and usually episodic, with the patient experiencing remarkably high blood pressure, slow heart rate, intense headaches, profuse sweating, flushing of the skin, goosebumps, nasal stuffiness, a "feeling of doom" or apprehension, and blurred vision.

Acute AD is a reaction of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system to overstimulation. AD is believed to be triggered by afferent stimuli (nerve signals that send messages back to the spinal cord and brain) which originate below the level of the spinal cord lesion.

The most common causes of autonomic dysreflexia seen in patients with spinal cord injury are impaction in the bowels and distention in case of the bladder. These are generally found in patients with a spinal cord injury above the T6 (6th Thoracic Vertebral) level, but can occur in patients with a transection as low as T10 (10th Thoracic Vertebral) level.