HomeIntroduction To Spinal Cord InjuryAutonomic DysreflexiaWhat is autonomic dysreflexia

6.1. What is autonomic dysreflexia

Autonomic dysreflexia (AD), also known as hyperreflexia, refers to an over-active Autonomic Nervous System, which causes an abrupt onset of excessively high blood pressure. Persons at risk for this problem generally have injury levels above T-5. AD can develop suddenly and is potentially life threatening and is considered a medical emergency. If not treated promptly and correctly, it may lead to seizures, stroke, and even death.

AD occurs when an irritating stimulus is introduced to the body below the level of spinal cord injury, such as an overfull bladder. The stimulus sends nerve impulses to the spinal cord, where they travel upward until they are blocked by the lesion at the level of injury. Since the impulses cannot reach the brain, a reflex is activated that increases activity of the sympathetic portion of autonomic nervous system. This results in spasms and a narrowing of the blood vessels, which causes a rise in the blood pressure.

Signs & Symptoms

Avoiding Autonomic Dysreflexia

This page was: Helpful | Not Helpful