Do you remember when you were younger and had a lot more energy? Sometimes you would get up too fast and get dizzy. This is called orthostatic hypotension or postural hypotension.  You may feel dizzy, lightheaded, or even faint. You may not have to get up fast any more to experience the dizzy feeling. This episode may last a few seconds to a few minutes after standing. If it lasts longer than that, you need to visit with your physician to make sure there is nothing else to be concerned about. Orthostatic hypotension can occur in anyone, but can be seen particularly in the elderly and those with low blood pressure.

Some of the signs and symptoms of orthostatic hypotension after sudden standing are:

  • Dizziness
  • Intense feelings of well being or disorientation
  • Lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Distortions in hearing
  • Blurred or dimmed vision
  • Fainting

Orthostatic hypotension is caused primarily by pooling of blood in the lower extremity caused by gravity. This can set off a chain reaction:

  • Venous return to the heart is compromised
  • Decreased cardiac output
  • Lowered arterial pressure
  • Lowered systolic and diastolic pressure
  • Insufficient blood flow to the upper extremity

Normally the blood pressure does not fall very much when you stand, because it automatically triggers vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels caused by muscular contraction of the muscle in the vein wall). Orthostatic hypotension may be aggravated when there is a lower volume of blood present (bleeding, diuretics, dehydration vasodilators or other types of drugs, or prolonged bed rest). There are also certain diseases which could aggravate orthostatic hypotension, but those are best diagnosed and addressed by a physician.

BPStanding BPSitting

 

One simple test for orthostatic hypotension is taking the blood pressure while sitting or lying down and again when standing.

 

 

 

 

 

A drop in systolic blood pressure of 20mmHg and/or a drop of diastolic blood pressure of 10 mmHg could be diagnostic. A tilt table test or other tests may also be used.

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The treatment of orthostatic hypotension will depend on the cause, but physicians will usually review the medications you are currently taking to
make sure there is nothing that could cause your symptoms. Your physician may recommend lifestyle changes such as increase in fluid intake, standing slowly, and avoid bending at the waist. Sometimes wearing compression stockings will help control the drop in blood pressure you have experienced. Some physicians will recommend a 15-20mmHg knee high: other physicians recommend a 20-30 mmHg knee high. A knee high garment may be adequate to control a mild drop in blood pressure, but in severe cases, a 30-40mmHg waist high garment may be required. In any case, if you are having symptoms of orthostatic hypotension, consult with your physician.

SupportHoseStore.com offers many styles of garments your physician may recommend. Remember there is a wide range of athletic, dress, casual, and sheer stockings to fit your lifestyle. Check your latest e-mail for specials and call one of our Certified Fitters at 1-800-515-4271 for assistance.

If you have orthostatic hypotension please share with us how you and your physicians have been able to manage it, go to the bottom of the blog entry and leave a comment.

 

Vanda