Orthostatic hypotension

Fact Checked

Orthostatic hypotension is a type of low blood pressure. This occurs once the blood vessels do not tighten when standing up. It is usually an indication of an underlying condition.

When standing up from a seated or lying down position, the blood vessels react to gravity by narrowing to prevent the blood pressure from dropping. This guarantees a constant supply of oxygenated blood to the brain. Most are likely to experience a mild form at some time. It is usually a lightheaded sensation when getting out of bed quickly.

What are the indications?

A drop in the blood pressure lowers the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain. The usual symptoms include the following:

  • Lightheadedness
    Drink more fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Fainting
  • Mental confusion

What are the causes?

Orthostatic hypotension is usually brought about by an underlying health condition. Some of the usual causes include the following:

  • Fever
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Extended bed rest
  • Dehydration due to diarrhea, vomiting or both
  • Using certain medications such as antihypertensive medications or diuretics
  • Heart issues including erratic heartbeat, aortic stenosis, congestive heart failure or heart attack
  • Nervous system conditions such as neuropathy or Parkinson’s disease
  • Extensive blood loss
  • Spinal cord conditions

Management of orthostatic hypotension

The treatment is usually based on the cause. The commonly used options include the following:

  • Administration of fluids to manage dehydration
  • Regular insulin injections to manage diabetes
  • Altering the dosage in medications if they are the cause
  • Medications, surgery or both to manage heart conditions
  • Medications to increase the blood volume or pressure

Self-care measures

The general recommendations that can help manage orthostatic hypotension include the following:

  • Raise the head using pillows while in bed to reduce the likelihood of orthostatic hypotension upon getting up.
  • Move slowly from a seated or lying position to allow the blood vessels enough time to adjust.
  • Eat small, frequent meals instead of 3 large meals per day.
  • Use support stockings to minimize the pooling of blood in the legs to improve the blood pressure.
  • Drink more fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
  • Reduce the consumption of alcohol since it increases the risk of dehydration and dilation of the blood vessels.
  • Lower the intake of caffeine to small but regular doses to boost the blood pressure.
  • Avoid engaging in strenuous exercise, saunas, hot baths and any hot environments since it widens the blood vessels.
  • Avoid ascending quickly to high altitudes.
  • As much as possible, avoid standing without moving for long periods of time.
  • Consult a doctor for regular blood pressure monitoring.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All firstaidreddeer.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.