An autonomic reflex screen, which consisted of a quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test, orthostatic blood pressure and heart rate response to tilt, heart rate response to deep breathing, the Valsalva ratio, and beat-to-beat blood pressure measurements during phases II and IV of the Valsalva maneuver, tilt, and deep breathing, was used to develop a 10-point composite autonomic scoring scale of autonomic function. The scheme allots 4 points for adrenergic and 3 points each for sudomotor and cardiovagal failure. Each score is normalized for the compounding effects of age and sex. Patients with a score of 3 or less on the composite autonomic scoring scale have only mild autonomic failure, those with scores of 7 to 10 have severe failure, and those with scores between these two ranges have moderate autonomic failure. The sensitivity and specificity of the method were assessed by evaluating the composite autonomic scoring scale in four groups of patients with known degrees of autonomic failure: 18 with multisystem atrophy, 20 with autonomic neuropathy, 20 with Parkinson's disease, and 20 with peripheral neuropathy but no autonomic symptoms. The composite scores (means ± SD) for these four groups, respectively, were as follows: 8.5 ± 1.3, 8.6 ± 1.2, 1.5 ± 1.1, and 1.7 ± 1.3. Patients with symptomatic autonomic failure had scores of 5 or more, those without symptomatic autonomic failure had scores of 4 or less, and no overlap existed in these groups. Thus, autonomic laboratory tests should be useful in grading the degree of autonomic failure.
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