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Orthostatic hypotension (also called postural hypotension) is a sudden fall in blood pressure that occurs upon standing quickly. Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart through the body). Hypotension is the term for low blood pressure.
When you stand up, gravity pulls blood into your legs, and your blood pressure begins to fall. Certain reflexes in your body compensate for this change. Your heart beats faster to pump more blood, and your blood vessels constrict to prevent blood from pooling in your legs. Many drugs can affect these normal reflexes and lead to orthostatic hypotension. These reflexes may also begin to weaken as we age. For this reason, orthostatic hypotension is common in the elderly.
People with orthostatic hypotension feel dizzy when they stand up. The condition is often mild and lasts for just a few minutes after standing. Some people may faint (temporarily lose consciousness).
There are many causes for orthostatic hypotension. These include:
The most common symptoms are dizziness and lightheadedness upon standing up. The symptoms will usually go away upon sitting or lying down.
Other common symptoms include:
Less common symptoms include:
If your doctor suspects that you have orthostatic hypotension, he or she will check your blood pressure while you are sitting, lying down, and standing. The doctor can diagnose orthostatic hypotension if your systolic blood pressure drops by 20 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or your diastolic blood pressure drops by 10 mm Hg within three minutes of standing up (Mayo Clinic, 2011).
The doctor may also conduct a physical examination, check your heart rate, or order certain tests to find the condition’s underlying cause. These tests may include:
Treatment for orthostatic hypotension depends on the cause. Treatment may include the following changes in lifestyle:
For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe drugs that work to increase blood volume or constrict blood vessels to treat orthostatic hypotension (Cleveland Clinic, 2009). These include:
Written by: Jacquelyn Cafasso
Published on: Aug 27, 2013on: Nov 07, 2016
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