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Cardiovascular dysfunction inmultiple sclerosis

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Cardiovascular dysfunction (CD) in multiple sclerosis (MS) is related to involvement of reflex pathways in the brainstem. The battery of CD tests was applied to a group of 40 healthy subjects and 40 patients with MS, divided in 2 subgroups according to the expanded disability status scale (EDSS). The tests included: 1) postural blood pressure changes, 2) postural heart rate changes, 3) heart rate changes on inspiration/forced expiration and 4) ECG R–R interval measurement on the Valsalva maneuver. Both groups were subjected to the functional independence scale (FIM). Imaging studies were reviewed and autonomic dysfunction at other levels was explored. The results showed a statistically significant difference (P<0.05) in all tests when comparing patients to controls. Tests 1 and 4 had the highest significance, with findings of more severe involvement in patients with a higher EDSS and lower FIM. A correlation was also found between CD and brainstem lesions on MRI (P<0.01). A significant number of MS patients had evidence of CD. Test I may be considered a simple marker, in daily clinical practice, to detect subclinical CD. Subclinical CD is a cause of disability in this group of patients.

Keywords: cardiovascular dysfunction; cardiovascular testing; disability; multiple sclerosis

Document Type: Original Article


Publication date: February 1, 2000


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