Orthostatic Hypotension also known as postural hypotension is a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting or lying down. It may make you feel dizzy or lightheaded and may also sometimes cause you to faint. Orthostatic Hypotension can be mild which lasts for less than a few minutes. However, if it happens frequently then it points towards a serious problem and it is important to see a doctor.
Mild or occasional orthostatic hypotension may be caused by dehydration or long hours of sleep, but chronic orthostatic hypotension is usually a sign of another health problem and treatment varies.
Symptoms of orthostatic hypotension –
The symptoms of orthostatic hypotension include:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness upon standing
- Blurry vision
When these symptoms occur occasionally then there is no cause for concern. However, you may need to visit a doctor if it happens frequently and it is even more urgent to consult a doctor if you lose consciousness, even for just a few seconds.
Who is at the risk?
People who are more than 65 years of age are at a higher risk of orthostatic hypotension. This is because the cells that regulate the blood pressure can slow as per the age.
Causes of orthostatic hypotension –
Many conditions can cause orthostatic hypotension. Some of them are:-
- Nervous system disorders – Some nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, Lewy body dementia, and amyloidosis can disrupt your body’s normal blood pressure regulation system.
- Dehydration – Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, too much hot exercise and not drinking enough fluids can all lead to dehydration. It can lead to dizziness, weakness, and fatigue.
- Heart problems – Some heart conditions such as extremely low heart rate, heart valve problems, and heart failure prevent the body from pumping more blood rapidly when standing up.
- Endocrine Problems – Thyroid conditions, adrenal insufficiency, and low blood sugar can also cause orthostatic hypotension.
Diagnosis of orthostatic hypotension –
The doctor may examine your medical history and your symptoms and conduct a physical examination to help diagnose your condition. The doctor may also recommend the following tests:-
- Blood pressure monitoring – Your doctor will measure your blood pressure both while you’re sitting and while you’re standing. Your doctor will diagnose orthostatic hypotension if you have a drop of 20 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in your systolic blood pressure or a drop of 10 mm Hg in your diastolic blood pressure within two to five minutes of standing.
- Blood tests – These provide overall information about health, including low blood sugar or low blood cells.
- Electrocardiogram – This test detects irregularities in heart structure and problems with the supply of blood to the heart muscle.
- Tilt table test – A tilt table test evaluates how your body reacts to changes in position. You’ll lie on a flat table that tilts to raise the upper part of your body, which simulates the movement from lying down to standing. Your blood pressure is taken frequently as the table is tilted.
Orthostatic hypotension treatment –
Orthostatic hypotension is mainly caused due to low BP so the main goal of treatment is to restore normal blood pressure. Its treatments include:
- Lifestyle changes – Doctors may suggest various lifestyle changes including drinking enough water, avoid crossing legs while sitting and standing up slowly.
- Compression Stockings – Compression stockings and garments or abdominal binders may help reduce the pooling of blood in your legs and reduce the symptoms of orthostatic hypotension.
- Medications – Doctors may also suggest certain drugs to treat Hypotension.
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Orthostatic hypotension prevention –
Orthostatic hypotension can be prevented by following some simple steps. These include:-
- Drink water – Keeping body hydrated helps prevent symptoms of low blood pressure. Drink plenty of water or other fluids before a long period of standing or any such activity that tends to trigger your symptoms.
- Increase salt in your diet – Increase intake of salt through your diets. However, this should be done with doctor’s suggestions as too much salt can result in other health issues.
- Exercise daily – Regular cardiovascular and strengthening exercises help reduce symptoms of orthostatic hypotension. Avoid exercising in very hot or humid weather.
- Take vitamin supplements – Vitamin B-12 and anemia deficiency can affect blood flow and worsen symptoms of orthostatic hypotension so vitamin and iron supplements might help fight with deficiency.
- Get up slowly – When getting out of bed, sit on the edge of your bed for a minute before standing and be slow while moving from lying to standing position.