evidence and practice
Recognition and management of autonomic dysreflexia in patients with a spinal cord injury
Sara Morgan Senior lecturer in adult nursing, Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales
• To recognise the signs and symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia
• To enhance your understanding of the common causes of autonomic dysreflexia
• To update your knowledge of the management of autonomic dysreflexia
Autonomic dysreflexia is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects patients with a spinal cord injury at the level of T6 or above. It is characterised by uncontrolled elevation of systolic blood pressure of more than 20mmHg, which may occur alongside bradycardia.
This article explains the pathophysiology of autonomic dysreflexia, alongside its causes, signs and symptoms. It also details the pharmacological and non-pharmacological management interventions that should be promptly initiated in patients who present to the emergency department with autonomic dysreflexia, to alleviate their symptoms and prevent further complications.
Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2019.e1978Peer review
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software
Morgan S (2019) Recognition and management of autonomic dysreflexia in patients with a spinal cord injury. Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2019.e1978
Published online: 10 December 2019