Orthostatic hypotension is a condition of abnormal blood pressure regulation upon standing. The blood pressure quickly decreases, more than 20/10 mm Hg, when rising from a lying down or sitting position to a standing position.
Orthostatic hypotension has several causes.
Factors that increase your chances of getting orthostatic hypotension include:
Symptoms of orthostatic hypotension include:
Exercise or having eaten a heavy meal may worsen symptoms.
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to orthostatic hypotension. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions.
Orthostatic hypotension is diagnosed when symptoms are present and there is a measured reduction in blood pressure while standing, which is relieved by lying down.
Treatment for orthostatic hypotension depends on the cause.
Adjusting Dosage or Type of Medication
When orthostatic hypotension is due to hypovolemia related to medications, adjusting or stopping medication may be needed to reverse the condition.
Orthostatic hypotension resulting from dehydration is treated with fluids and electrolyte replacement.
If bedrest is the cause of orthostatic hypotension, symptoms may be improved by increasing time spent sitting up in bed.
A number of medications may be given to boost blood pressure. Over-the-counter medications include caffeine and ibuprofen.
In some cases, individuals may be encouraged to increase their intake of salt. Fitted elastic stockings that go up to the waist may be worn. Individuals may need to be taught to rise from lying down, to sit up, and to stand in a slow and gradual manner. Similarly, they should be discouraged from standing still for too long a time.
If you are diagnosed with orthostatic hypotension, follow your doctor's instructions.
There is no way to prevent orthostatic hypotension if it is a result of other diseases or conditions. However, if your orthostatic hypotension relates to medications, dehydration, or bedrest, you should talk with your healthcare provider about treatment options.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Heart and Stroke Foundation
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO