Autonomic Dysfunction Specialist

Heart Rhythm Associates, LLC

Van H. De Bruyn, MD, FACC, FHRS

General Cardiology & Cardiac Electrophysiology located in Little Rock, AR

Your autonomic nervous system plays a major role in your overall health, and it can also contribute to heart-rhythm disorders. With more than 20 years of experience, Van H. De Bruyn, MD, is an expert in cardiac and heart rhythm disorders at Heart Rhythm Associates LLC in Central Arkansas. If you’re in Little Rock or the surrounding area and have autonomic dysfunction, call Heart Rhythm Associates or schedule an appointment online today.

Autonomic Dysfunction Q & A

What is autonomic dysfunction?

Autonomic dysfunction occurs if you suffer damage to nerves in your autonomic nervous system (ANS). Your ANS works to control your body functions that you don’t think about consciously, such as your heart and breathing rates, your body temperature, and your digestion.

When your ANS suffers damage, you experience autonomic neuropathy. These complications can vary from mild to life-threatening and affect a portion or your entire ANS.

What are the symptoms of autonomic dysfunction?

If you have autonomic dysfunction, you can experience a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Digestive disorders – constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, etc.
  • Sexual problems – erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, and others
  • Urinary incontinence and other urinary dysfunction
  • Vision problems

You can also experience orthostatic hypotension directly associated with your blood pressure. This form of autonomic dysfunction causes your blood pressure to significantly drop when you stand.

When you have orthostatic hypotension, it’s common to experience palpitations, dizziness, and syncope (or fainting). You might also experience heart arrhythmias and be unable to regulate your heart rate during physical activities.

How is autonomic dysfunction diagnosed?

To diagnose autonomic dysfunction, Dr. De Bruyn conducts a full physical exam, discusses your symptoms, and reviews your medical history. He also works with his team to measure your blood pressure while you stand, lie down, and sit.

Dr. De Bruyn could also recommend additional tests, including:

  • Complete blood count to look for underlying conditions
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) to evaluate your heart rhythm
  • Echocardiogram to check your heart and heart valve function

Based on your results and symptoms, Dr. De Bruyn could also order a stress test to monitor your heart during activity.

How is autonomic dysfunction treated?

Dr. De Bruyn develops a treatment for your autonomic dysfunction based on the cause of your condition. In many cases, you can’t reverse nerve damage to your autonomic nervous system, but Dr. De Bruyn’s expertise and advanced training as a cardiologist can help you manage your heart-related symptoms.

Treatments for autonomic dysfunction related to your blood pressure and heart might include:

  • Taking medications like midodrine
  • Wearing compression stockings to improve circulation
  • Increasing your fluid intake
  • Modifying your diet to add more salt

Dr. De Bruyn might also recommend lifestyle changes to help you cope with the effects of your condition.

To learn more about autonomic dysfunction, call Heart Rhythm Associates or schedule an appointment online today.