Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden fall in blood pressure. It occurs when a person goes from a sitting or lying position to a standing position.

CAUSES

  • Loss of body fluids (dehydration).

  • Medicines that lower blood pressure.

  • Sudden changes in posture, such as sudden standing when you have been sitting or lying down.

  • Taking too much of your medicine.

SYMPTOMS

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness.

  • Fainting or near-fainting.

  • A fast heart rate (tachycardia).

  • Weakness.

  • Feeling tired (fatigue).

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver may find the cause of orthostatic hypotension through:

  • A history and/or physical exam.

  • Checking your blood pressure. Your caregiver will check your blood pressure when you are:

  • Lying down.

  • Sitting.

  • Standing.

  • Tilt table testing. In this test, you are placed on a table that goes from a lying position to a standing position. You will be strapped to the table. This test helps to monitor your blood pressure and heart rate when you are in different positions.

TREATMENT

  • If orthostatic hypotension is caused by your medicines, your caregiver will need to adjust your dosage. Do not stop or adjust your medicine on your own.

  • When changing positions, make these changes slowly. This allows your body to adjust to the different position.

  • Compression stockings that are worn on your lower legs may be helpful.

  • Your caregiver may have you consume extra salt. Do not add extra salt to your diet unless directed by your caregiver.

  • Eat frequent, small meals. Avoid sudden standing after eating.

  • Avoid hot showers or excessive heat.

  • Your caregiver may give you fluids through the vein (intravenous).

  • Your caregiver may put you on medicine to help enhance fluid retention.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You faint or have a near-fainting episode. Call your local emergency services (911 in U.S.).

  • You have or develop chest pain.

  • You feel sick to your stomach (nauseous) or vomit.

  • You have a loss of feeling or movement in your arms or legs.

  • You have difficulty talking, slurred speech, or you are unable to talk.

  • You have difficulty thinking or have confused thinking.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.