Autonomic Failure Syndromes (Pure Autonomic Failure)

Autonomic Failure Syndromes (Pure Autonomic Failure) is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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  • Blood pressure drop with inadequate compensatory rise in heart rate while standing attributed to autonomic system impairment (1)
  • Maintaining upright posture is difficult for patients with this disorder. They are at increased risk for fall and syncope.


Unconfirmed, area of ongoing research (2)

  • Male > female (2)
  • Starts at middle age and progresses through life
  • True prevalence currently unknown

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Area of ongoing research; may stem from neurodegenerative disease or from systemic illness affecting the peripheral nervous system (1)
  • Homeostatic mechanisms that typically regulate blood pressure fluctuations are impaired.
  • Affects sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems with sparing of adrenal medulla (usually) (2)

No specific genetic component identified

Risk Factors

  • Male gender
  • Medications: tricyclic antidepressants, antihypertensives, vasodilators, diuretics, antiparkinsonian agents

General Prevention

  • Avoid abrupt change in posture and standing motionless for extended periods.
  • Avoid large meals, hot environments.

Commonly Associated Conditions

Not applicable

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* When formatting your citation, note that all book, journal, and database titles should be italicized* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Autonomic Failure Syndromes (Pure Autonomic Failure) ID - 816838 Y1 - 2019 PB - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - ER -