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Autonomic Dysfunction : For Patients

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Q: Why is ANSAR’s Parasympathetic and Sympathetic (P&S) monitoring different from other autonomic nervous system (ANS) monitors? 

A: The ANS is made up of the P&S nervous systems.  The ANS is similar to your car, in that it has brakes (the Parasympathetics) and an accelerator (the Sympathetics).  Knowing that your car does not work is not enough information to know how to repair it.  Knowing that the brakes are jammed or the fuel line is clogged is more information and leads to better therapy and improved outcomes, less guess work.  ANS monitoring provides information only about the total ANS, P&S combined, like only knowing my car does not work.  Only knowing total ANS activity forces assumption and approximation.  P&S monitoring provides more and specific information that leads to better therapy planning and improved outcomes.

Q: Is Tilt-Table Testing required?

A: Some believe that tilt-table testing is required to monitor the ANS, and once it was the only test available.  It is, however, a measure of total ANS activity (see question #1).  Tilt-testing may still be required in some cases.  Both tests have their limitations, and your physician knows them both.

Q: Most physicians say that the ANS is not treatable, is this true?

A:Most treatments affect only one or the other branch of the ANS:  Parasympathetic or Sympathetic.  Until rather recently, there was not enough information regarding the two branches to know how treatments may affect them, and when treatments were attempted, too often the results were not what was expected.  So physicians did treat the symptoms and hoped for some relief.  However, this lead to multiple medications and often times did not fully restore quality of life.

Q: Why is Autonomic Dysfunction so difficult to diagnose and treat?

A: The function of the ANS is to control the organs and thereby all bodily functions.  The ANS is mostly “hidden” behind the organs.  If an organ starts to be dysfunctional, the P&S systems work to keep it functioning properly, even if they themselves are dysfunctional.  So symptoms do not present yet.  It is not until the P&S systems (one or both) begin to fail that the organ dysfunction and associated symptoms present and you do not feel well.  P&S monitoring may detect impending autonomic failure before symptoms and it is often used to maintain wellness either (1) in patients who have been made well after an illness or (2) in patients that have a chronic condition (like hypertension or diabetes) that do not feel poorly, but are at risk.

Q: What is the goal of P&S monitoring and therapy?

A: The goal is balance.  Balance between the P&S branches is known as Sympathovagal Balance.  Regardless of age, history, lifestyle, or genetics, a balanced ANS minimizes health risks, promotes wellness, reduces hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations, and may (ultimately) reduce medications.

Q: Why do other physicians tell me that my tests results are normal, yet P&S monitoring shows abnormalities?

A: Most tests test you at rest.  The P&S systems support both dynamic as well as resting functions.  The earlier autonomic dysfunctions affect your dynamic states.  Dynamic autonomic dysfunctions are not revealed during tests at rest.  It is not until much later in a diseases process that the resting autonomic states are affected.  The P&S (ANSAR) test report will show both resting and dynamic results.  The resting results often support what other physicians find.  The dynamic results often show the more information needed to help improve wellness.

Q: Why does P&S therapy take so long to treat autonomic dysfunction?

A: First of all, P&S therapy has to be low dose.  It is like a pendulum; you have to make small adjustments otherwise other problems may be created from the therapy.  Secondly, the P&S systems have memory (like the rest of your nervous system, including your brain) of your entire history and must be retrained to operate in a more normal and balanced manner.  Think of a habit you want to break.  That takes time to retrain yourself.  Normalizing P&S function is like that.  The longer you had the habit, the longer you had the autonomic dysfunction, the longer it takes to normalize.