Mayo Clinic: Whatís the difference between feeling dizzy
every now and then and orthostatic hypotension? How is it
diagnosed, and can it be treated?
people remember an occasion when they felt dizzy or
light-headed after standing up too quickly. This happens
because the pull of gravity causes your blood pressure to drop
after you stand. For most people, this occasional phenomenon
lasts only a few seconds and usually isnít a serious
other hand, if you frequently feel light-headed, experience
dimming of your vision, ringing in your ears, weakness of your
legs, or pain of the neck and shoulders when standing up, and
your symptoms go away once you sit down, you may have
orthostatic hypotension. This means that your blood pressure
remains much lower than normal as long as you continue
hypotension can limit activities that involve standing.
Feeling unsteady when you stand can increase your risk of
falling and fracturing a bone, which can be life-changing.
Simple steps can help improve symptoms.
when you stand, gravity causes blood to be pulled into your
legs and your blood pressure to drop slightly. Your body makes
up for the increased blood pooling in your legs by
constricting your blood vessels and increasing your heart
rate. This reflexive response is carried out by your autonomic
aging, the autonomic nervous system may lose some of its
ability to regulate blood flow in response to the pull of
gravity. Occasionally certain diseases ó such as Parkinsonís
disease ó can disrupt the chemical balance and structure of
autonomic nerve cells, resulting in orthostatic hypotension.
Orthostatic hypotension also can be a side effect of
medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure,
an enlarged prostate or depression.
drop in blood pressure can mean there is less blood available
to reach your brain. Symptoms of decreased blood flow to the
brain may range from light-headedness, dizziness and fatigue
to confusion, vision changes or fainting on standing. Less
commonly, you might have nausea, trouble breathing, headache,
or neck or chest pain when standing.
people get light-headed or dizzy every time they stand, while
others do only when their bodies are stressed, such as from
dehydration, heat or after illness. Others have hypotension
after a large meal. Not everyone with low blood pressure has
doctor may be able to make a diagnosis by monitoring your
blood pressure while you transition from sitting to standing.
A fall of more than 20 to 30 millimeters of mercury in your
systolic blood pressure or 10 millimeters of mercury diastolic
blood pressure, or both within three minutes of standing is
considered orthostatic hypotension. Another way to diagnose
orthostatic hypotension is by a tilt table test or an
autonomic reflex screen.
health care provider may request blood and urine tests to rule
out underlying problems, such as anemia or dehydration. He or
she also may recommend monitoring your blood pressure over a
24-hour period or specific tests to check your autonomic
goal is finding ways to improve your symptoms. First steps may
include ó with your health care providerís advice ó
drinking more fluids, adding salt to your diet or adjusting
medications. Waist-high compression stockings or an abdominal
binder can help prevent symptoms by keeping blood from pooling
in your abdomen and legs. You can learn to anticipate when you
are likely to have symptoms and take measures to help keep
your blood pressure steady. In general, always try to move
from lying to sitting to standing in gradual stages. Start
walking only after you feel steady.
orthostatic hypotension can occur as a medication side effect.
When medicine that might cause hypotension canít be stopped,
other strategies or medications are available that can help
address the symptoms of orthostatic hypotension.