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January 1985

Autonomic Function in Myotonic Dystrophy

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurology
Department of Medicine and the Cardiovascular Research Institute University of California School of Medicine San Francisco, CA 94143

Arch Neurol. 1985;42(1):16. doi:10.1001/archneur.1985.04060010018007

To the Editor.  —We were particularly interested to read the recent report, published in the Archives, of a study on certain aspects of autonomic functions in five patients with myotonic dystrophy.1 Patients with myotonic dystrophy frequently have symptoms and signs suggestive of autonomic dysfunction, and some of these may be so conspicuous that they lead to a fatal outcome. Such symptoms include hypotension, Raynaud's phenomenon, cardiac arrhythmias, hyperhydrosis, bladder disturbances, gastrointestinal and sexual dysfunction, ventilatory disturbances, and weight loss.2,3 A lesion in central and/or peripheral autonomic pathways might account for these symptoms. Alternatively, many of these symptoms could relate to a primary degenerative process affecting smooth as well as skeletal muscles.3 In either case, we had felt previously that it would be of interest to study vasomotor reflex activity in patients with myotonic dystrophy, and in view of the recent report,1 our findings may be of interest.

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