What is Baroreflex Failure?
Baroreflex Failure is a rare disorder characterized by change of blood pressure with episodes of severe hypertension (high blood pressure). There can be increased heart rate during stress and hypotension (low blood pressure) with normal or reduced heart rate during rest.
Symptoms may include:
- excessive sweating
- Extremely high or volatile blood pressure and heart rate with spikes in blood pressure in response to stress, with periods of normal or even low blood pressure during rest.
- heart rate that does not respond to medications intended to improve it
Note that Baroreflex Failure may resemble another rare disorder called pheochromocytoma, a catecholamine-secreting tumor.
What causes Baroreflex Failure?
Possible causes may include:
- Surgery and radiation for cancer of the throat
- Injury to glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves (nerves involved in sensing blood pressure)
- Cell loss on both sides in the nuclei of the solitary tract (NTS, a column of cells located in the medulla) in the setting of a degenerative neurologic disease of the brain.
- For many patients, the cause of Baroreflex Failure is not known.
How is Baroreflex Failure diagnosed?
Baroreflex Failure resembles other more common disorders, so its diagnosis is challenging.
In addition to asking detailed questions about the patient’s health and family history, the physician will conduct a physical examination, which will include checking blood pressure and heart rate in specific circumstances, such as during daily activity and with medication challenges.
What is the treatment for Baroreflex Failure?
Treatment for Baroreflex Failure involves medications to control blood pressure and heart rate and to reduce stress..