Your autonomic nervous system is the part of your nervous system that controls involuntary actions, such as the beating of your heart and the widening or narrowing of your blood vessels.
Your autonomic nervous system is the part of your nervous system that controls involuntary actions, such as the beating of your heart and the widening or narrowing of your blood vessels. When something goes wrong in this system, it can cause serious problems, including
• Blood pressure problems
• Heart problems
• Trouble with breathing and swallowing
• Erectile dysfunction in men
Autonomic nervous system disorders can occur alone or as the result of another disease, such as Parkinson’s disease, alcoholism and diabetes. Problems can affect either part of the system, as in complex regional pain syndromes, or all of the system. Some types are temporary, but many worsen over time. When they affect your breathing or heart function, these disorders can be life-threatening. Some autonomic nervous system disorders get better when an underlying disease is treated. Often, however, there is no cure. In that case, the goal of treatment is to improve symptoms.
• Orthostatic hypotension, also known as postural hypotension, is a form of hypotension in which a person’s blood pressure suddenly falls when the person stands up. The decrease is typically greater than 20/10 mm Hg, and may be most pronounced after resting. The incidence increases with age. Orthostatic hypotension is primarily caused by gravity-induced blood pooling in the lower extremities, which in turn compromises venous return, resulting in decreased cardiac output and subsequent lowering of arterial pressure.