Autonomic assessment has played an important role in elucidating the role of the autonomic nervous system in diverse clinical and research settings. The techniques most widely used in the clinical setting entail the measurement of an end-organ response to a physiological provocation. The non-invasive measures of cardiovascular parasympathetic function involve the analysis of heart rate variability while the measures of cardiovascular sympathetic function assess the blood pressure response to physiological stimuli. Prolonged tilt-table testing, with or without pharmacological provocation, has become an important tool in the investigation of a predisposition to neurally mediated (vasovagal) syncope. Frequency domain analyses of heart rate and blood pressure variability, microneurography, occlusion plethysmography, laser Doppler imaging and flowmetry, and cardiac sympathetic imaging are currently research tools but may find a place in the clinical assessment of autonomic function in the future.
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