Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in Parkinson's disease.J Neurol Sci. 2010 Feb 15; 289(1-2):74-80.JN
Symptoms of cardiovascular dysautonomia are a common occurrence in Parkinson's disease (PD). In addition to this dysautonomia as part of PD itself, dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) can be triggered as a side-effect of drug treatment interacting with the ANS or - if prominent and early - an indication of a different disease such as multiple system atrophy (MSA). Various diagnostic tests are available to demonstrate autonomic failure. While autonomic function tests can differentiate parasympathetic from sympathetic dysfunction, cardiac imaging can define the pathophysiologically involved site of a lesion. Standard tests such as 24-h ambulatory blood pressure measurements can identify significant autonomic failure which needs treatment. The most frequent and disturbing symptom of cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction is orthostatic hypotension. Symptoms include generalized weakness, light-headiness, mental "clouding" up to syncope. Factors like heat, food, alcohol, exercise, activities which increase intrathoraric pressure (e.g. defecation, coughing) and certain drugs (e.g. vasodilators) can worsen a probably asymptomatic orthostatic hypotension. Non-medical and medical therapies can help the patient to cope with a disabling symptomatic orthostatic hypotension. Supine hypertension is often associated with orthostatic hypotension. The prognostic role of cardiovagal and baroreflex dysfunction is still not yet known.