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Management of hypertension in the setting of autonomic dysfunction.

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1500 21st Avenue South, Suite 3500, Clinical Trials Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37212, USA.


Supine hypertension is a common finding in patients with autonomic failure; it is associated with end-organ damage and produces nighttime pressure diuresis with worsening of orthostatic hypotension. During the daytime, it is best treated by avoiding the supine posture. At night, simple measures such as raising the head of the bed by 6 to 9 inches can be effective, but most patients require pharmacologic treatment. Transdermal nitroglycerin (0.1 to 0.2 mg/h) or nifedipine (30 mg, orally) has proved to be effective. Hydralazine and minoxidil are usually less effective but may be useful in a given patient. One key therapeutic concept is the hypersensitivity of these patients to depressor agents, requiring a careful titration of the doses on an individual basis. For those patients with proven residual sympathetic tone, as in multiple system atrophy, central sympatholytics such as clonidine may provide an alternative.


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