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Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center

Cold Pressor Test

What is the purpose of the cold pressor test?

The cold pressor test is used to assess a reflex arc that includes portions of the sympathetic nervous system.

How is the test performed?

In this test, the patient dunks a hand into ice-cold water for 1-2 minutes while heart rate and blood pressure are monitored. Normally, this will cause a reflexive increase in both heart rate and systolic blood pressure by increasing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.

What are the expected results for a patient with POTS?

Patients with POTS typically have an increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure that is greater than that observed in healthy patients.

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