heart attack and heart disease man chest ekg

The Importance of ANS Testing for Your Cardiac and Spinal Health

Celebrate American Heart Month in February with Extra Cardiac Care

In February, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and The Heart Truth® celebrate American Heart Month to motivate Americans in being more proactive about the prevention of heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, and Cardiovascular Disease kills about 2,300 people a day. Taking better care of your heart will do more than just prevent heart disease.

When you take steps to be proactive about your heart health you can experience the following benefits:

  • Maintaining cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Reducing feelings of depression
  • Lowering the risk of developing dementia

What Is Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) Testing?

If you have not heard of Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) testing, and you are interested in ways to step up your heart or spinal care, we recommend looking into this revolutionary testing method. ANS testing is used to assess how the nervous system reacts to stressors.

The ANS system of the body has two major divisions: the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Many of the essential organs in the human body are controlled by these systems. The sympathetic nervous system is catabolic and is responsible for fight-or-flight responses and the parasympathetic nervous system is anabolic, which means it conserves and restores cardiac functions.

ANS testing is based on Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which monitors the R-R intervals, beat-by-beat blood pressure, and pulse waveform. When we perform these ANS tests, our goal is to monitor the body’s response to changes through determinants like heart rate and blood pressure.

ANS testing might be recommended for individuals with conditions like:

  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • And postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome

However, in honor of American Heart Month, we should all be proactive about monitoring our heart health.

How Does a Spinal Cord Injury Affect the Autonomic Nervous System?

If your ANS system is having issues, this can be a sign that your spine is not in good shape. When you have a spinal cord injury, there is a disruption of connections between higher brain centers and the spinal cord.

Autonomic nerve pathways are the means through which the Central Nervous System (CNS) sends commands to the rest of the body. An autonomic nerve pathway involves two nerve cells, and one cell is located in the brain stem or spinal cord.

Spinal cord injuries, like damage to the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral sections of the spinal cord, can result in autonomic dysfunctions. The disruption of connections between the brain and the spinal cord results in various autonomic abnormalities. Some of these symptoms can even be life-threatening and severely interfere with the quality of life of those living with spinal cord injuries.

For example, those with spinal cord injuries can experience:

  • Hypertension
  • Bladder and urethral dysfunctions
  • Gastrointestinal motility disorders
  • Bowel dysfunction
  • And other undesirable complications

If you are experiencing these symptoms, ANS testing can help determine its cause so an appropriate treatment route can be created. However, we recommend ANS testing for anyone interested in learning more about their body’s response system and being proactive about their spinal and cardiac health.

Be proactive about your heart and spinal health with ANS testing. Call Unruh Spine Centers at (661) 338-5167 or contact us online to learn more about our services.