Postural hypotension, which physicians also call orthostatic hypotension, is a fall in the blood pressure that occurs when one goes from a lying to a standing position. This fall in blood pressure when rising can cause weakness, light-headedness, dizziness, or syncope (fainting). It is a problem that emerges with increasing frequency with advancing age.
There are multiple causes. Vascular and nervous system changes with age can, alone, produce this reaction in the blood pressure. Diseases that affect the cardiovascular system and the nervous system can do so as well. A number of endocrine diseases can also be involved. Many drugs may produce this response as an effect or a side effect.
Your doctor will undertake a comprehensive review of your medical history and physical examination to look for possible causes. A number of laboratory and other tests may be required to identify or eliminate possible causes.
Important Points in Treatment
The best treatment is prevention. When the underlying cause is identified, it should be treated. When the cause remains obscure or the treatment is not adequate to relieve the symptoms of the orthostatic hypotension, some general measures are helpful. These include but are not limited to:
- Avoid bed rest during the daytime. Sitting rather than reclining may lessen the postural effect.
- Elevate the head of the bed on 6-inch blocks. This will lessen the fluid shifts usually experienced when lying down.
- When you rise from the bed, sit up first and wait several minutes before standing.
- Some patients benefit from putting on support stockings before rising to stand.
- Your doctor may advise you concerning the addition of salt to your diet.
Call Our Office If
- You begin to experience dizziness or light-headedness on rising to a standing position.
- You faint.