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QJM. 2012 Dec;105(12):1191-9. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcs172. Epub 2012 Sep 13.

Primary Sjogrens syndrome is associated with impaired autonomic response to orthostasis and sympathetic failure.

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Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, NE2 4HH, UK.



Symptoms in keeping with autonomic dysfunction are commonly described by primary Sjögrens syndrome patients (pSS); whether objective abnormalities of autonomic function occur is unclear. This study set out to explore dynamic cardiovascular autonomic responses in pSS and their relationship with symptoms and quality of life.


Twenty-one people from the UK pSS registry, 21 community controls and 21 patients with the autoimmune liver disease primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) (matched case-wise for age and sex) attended for assessment of autonomic responses to orthostasis and Valsalva manoeuvre (VM). pSS patients also completed EULAR Sjögrens Syndrome patient-reported index (ESSPRI), EULAR Sjögren's syndrome disease activity index (ESSDAI), fatigue impact scale and EURO-QOL 5-dimension (EQ-5D).


Compared with controls, pSS patients had significantly lower baseline systolic blood pressure (SBP) (114 ± 13 vs. 127 ± 20; P = 0.02), which dropped to a significantly lower value (98 ± 22 vs. 119 ± 24, P = 0.009). When area under the curve (AUC) was calculated for when the SBP was below baseline this was significantly greater in pSS compared to both control groups (pSS vs. control vs. PBC: 153 ± 236 vs. 92 ± 85 vs. 1.2 ± 0.3, P = 0.005). Peak phase IV SBP during the VM was significantly lower in pSS (P = 0.007) indicating early sympathetic failure. Increased heart rate associated with fatigue (P = 0.02; r(2) = 0.2) and EQ-5D. A shift in sympathetic-vagal balance associated with overall symptom burden (ESSPRI) (P = 0.04, r(2) = 0.3) and EULAR sicca score (P = 0.016; r(2) = 0.3), the latter also correlated with baroreceptor effectiveness (P = 0.03; r(2) = 0.2) and diastolic blood pressure variability (P = 0.003; r(2) = 0.4).


pSS patients have impaired blood pressure response to standing. Dysautonomia correlates with PSS-associated symptoms and quality of life.

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