Orthostatic Hypotension

What is Orthostatic Hypotension?

Orthostatic hypotension, also known as postural hypotension, is a sudden drop in a person's blood pressure when they stand up from a lying or sitting position. It is caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain, which can cause symptoms such as lightheadeedness, dizziness, and even fainting. It is most common in older adults, but can occur in younger people as well.

Causes of Orthostatic Hypotension

Some of the most common causes of orthostatic hypotension include:

  • Age-related factors such as decreased blood flow to the brain and poor circulation
  • Diabetes
  • Dehydration
  • Certain medications, including diuretics, antidepressants, and cardiovascular medications
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Severe anemia

Symptoms of Orthostatic Hypotension

The symptoms of orthostatic hypotension typically begin within 15 seconds of standing up. The most common symptoms include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Fainting or near fainting (syncope)
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Paleness
  • Sweating

Diagnosis and Treatment of Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is typically diagnosed by a physician taking the patient's blood pressure both in a lying and standing position. Other tests such as ECG and MRIs may also be done to rule out other causes of dizziness or fainting. Treatment typically includes lifestyle changes, such as increasing water intake, exercising, and avoiding alcohol and certain medications.

In more severe cases, medication may be prescribed to help raise blood pressure. Such medications include fludrocortisone, midodrine, and eralastine. However, these drugs have potential side effects and should only be taken under the guidance of a doctor.