An Analysis of Baroreflex Performance in Spinal Cord Injured Humans in Response to Orthostatic Stress
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Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a condition that affects 300,000 people in the United States and leads to various complications, including loss of motor and sensory control, bladder and sexual function, and cardiovascular regulation. The baroreflex is the primary mechanism that regulates shortterm blood pressure through negative feedback. The instability of the cardiovascularsystem following spinal cord injury caused by baroreflex dysfunction is a primary concern because it leads to diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in those with SCI. Thus, measuring the function of the baroreflex in spinal cord injured patients may be helpful for diagnosing and treating critical common conditions like autonomic dysreflexia and orthostatic hypotension. In this study we aimed to characterize the cardiovascular responses of a large population of spinal cord injured humans at different injury levels and severities in order to help diagnose and treat common cardiovascular diseases in SCI in the future. We used sequence and spectral analysis methods to measure heart rate, blood pressure, baroreflex sensitivity, and the number of baroreflex sequences and non-baroreflex sequences over time. The variability of cardiovascular responses to orthostatic stress suggests lack of blood pressure regulation due to baroreflex dysfunction. Further investigation into the balance between negative and positive feedback mechanisms that control blood pressure regulation is needed to fully understand the dysfunction of the baroreflex in those with SCI.