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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Jul;116(7):875-80. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0239-4. Epub 2009 Jun 5.

Valsalva manoeuvre in patients with different Parkinsonian disorders.

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Autonomic and Neuroendocrinological Laboratory, Department of Neurology, University Clinic Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden University of Technology, Fetscherstrasse 74, Dresden 01307, Germany.


The valsalva manoeuvre (VM), used as an autonomic function test, can detect sympathetic and/or parasympathetic autonomic dysfunction. This study investigated the value of VM in patients with different Parkinsonian syndromes (PS). We continuously recorded blood pressure, ECG and respiration among 38 patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), 32 patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), 26 patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) and in 27 healthy subjects matched in age and sex (Con). VM was performed in addition to metronomic breathing and tilt-table testing. VM could not be analysed in 26% of the ES patients. Valsalva ratio (VR), as a parameter of cardiovagal function, was pathologically decreased in all patient groups. Valsalva ratio (VR) was not able to discriminate parasympathetic dysfunction between patients and controls as well as E/I ratio of metronomic breathing. As a parameter of sympathetic dysfunction during VM, the physiological increase of blood pressure was more often missing during phase IV than phase II especially in PD and MSA patients. Correlation with orthostatic hypotension during tilt-table testing was only moderate. Although VM can demonstrate sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic dysfunction, we cannot recommend VM as a first line autonomic test in PS patients. Metronomic breathing and tilt-table test seem more capable as parasympathetic resp. and sympathetic function tests to identify cardiovascular abnormalities in PS patients.

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