Management approaches to hypertension in autonomic failure

Amy C. Arnold, Italo Biaggioni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Supine hypertension is a common finding in autonomic failure that can worsen orthostatic hypotension and predispose to end-organ damage. This review focuses on nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic approaches to manage hypertension in these patients in the face of disabling orthostatic hypotension. Recent Findings: The hypertension of autonomic failure can be driven by sympathetic-dependent or independent mechanisms, contingent on the site of autonomic lesions. Management of supine hypertension should include simple nonpharmacologic approaches including avoiding the supine position during the daytime and sleeping in a head-up tilt position at night. Most patients, however, require pharmacologic treatment. Several antihypertensive therapies lower nighttime pressure in autonomic failure, but none improve nocturnal volume depletion or morning orthostatic tolerance. Regardless, treatment may still be beneficial in some patients but must be decided on an individual basis. Blood pressure monitoring is helpful in this regard, as well as titration of doses, as these patients are hypersensitive to depressor agents due to loss of baroreceptor reflexes. Summary: Autonomic failure provides a unique opportunity to study blood pressure regulation independent of autonomic influences. Understanding mechanisms driving supine hypertension will have important implications for the treatment of autonomic failure and will improve our knowledge of cardiovascular regulation in other populations, including essential hypertension and elderly hypertensive individuals with comorbid orthostatic hypotension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-485
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Nephrology


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