Autonomic Dysreflexia

Autonomic Dysreflexia 2018-07-24T15:36:58-04:00

Autonomic Dysreflexia

Autonomic dysreflexia (AD) is a potentially but often unrecognized life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention.  AD is an acute syndrome characterized by paroxysmal hypertensive episodes combined with pounding headache, slowed heart rate, and upper body flushing [1-3].

This secondary health condition holds major implications for an aging spinal cord injured (SCI) population who face the same risk factors as the general population for developing cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease, but with additional risk due to the rapid and large increases in blood pressure in episodes of AD [4].



Spinal Cord Essentials – is a patient education initiative which aims help people through rehabilitation following SCI.  Below is the downloable PDF on the autonomic dysreflexia handout.


1. Curt A, Nitsche B, Rodic B, Schurch B, Dietz V. Assessment of autonomic dysreflexia in patients with spinal cord injury. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1997;62:473-7.

2. Eltorai I, Kim R, Vulpe M, Kasravi H, Ho W. Fatal cerebral hemorrhage due to autonomic dysreflexia in a tetraplegic patient: case report and review. Paraplegia 1992;30:355-60.

3. Silver JR. Early autonomic dysreflexia. Spinal Cord 2000;38:299-33.

4. Groah SL, Weitzenkamp D, Sett P, Soni B, Savic G. The relationship between neurological level of injury and symptomatic cardiovascular disease risk in the aging spinal injured. Spinal Cord 2001;39:310-7.

Page last updated May 14, 2013