Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in patients with multiple sclerosis
Standard autonomic tests [heart rate response to deep breathing (HRDB), change in systolic blood pressure due to tilt], and spectral analysis of heart rate (HR), arterial blood pressure (ABP), and the associated transfer function analysis (gains and phases) were performed in 20 patients with multiple sclerosis to determine their diagnostic value. Transfer function analysis suggested impairment of baroreflex function in 7 patients and an alteration of cardiorespiratory coupling on a brain stem level in 4 patients. In addition, sympathetic vasomotor outflow was reduced in 2 patients (spectral ABP measures in the mid frequency band) and a decrease of vagal outflow was suggested by abnormal respiratory HR parameters in another 2 patients. An abnormal HRDB was present in 5 patients and was probably due to a central alteration (cardiorespiratory coupling) in 2 patients and due to diminished respiratory effort in 1 patient. Spectral analysis of both HR and ABP oscillations and their transfer function may considerably improve the pathophysiological interpretation of cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in patients with central nervous system disease.