Blood Pressure – Sudden Drop
- Orthostatic (postural) hypotension is an
excessive fall in blood pressure that occurs when a person stands up
or is in an upright position.
- Dizziness, light headedness, blurred vision,
loss of consciousness, and falls are the common symptoms.
- Treatment of postural hypotension depends on
- There are many ways to avoid or reduce
- Orthostatic (postural) hypotension is a
sudden and extreme fall in blood pressure that occurs when a person
stands up or is in an upright position.
- It results in dizziness, light headedness,
blurred vision, loss of consciousness, and falls.
- It is estimated that one-third of older
people living in the community and one-half of those in the hospital
or in nursing homes are affected by this condition.
blood pressure changes when you change position.
- When your heart contracts, it pushes blood
into the arteries causing an increase in blood pressure (systolic
pressure). When your heart relaxes and refills with blood, the
pressure in the arteries decreases (diastolic pressure).
- Standing causes 500 to 700 ml of blood to
pool in the legs, so there is less blood for the heart to pump. This
results in a decrease in blood pressure.
- Special cells called baroreceptors (located
close to the neck arteries) sense this decrease in blood pressure.
They counteract by triggering the heart to beat faster and pump more
blood in order to stabilize the blood pressure.
- Normally, the blood pressure response that
occurs when an individual moves to a standing position is a small
reduction in systolic blood pressure and a small increase in
diastolic blood pressure. This imbalance lasts only for a few
seconds as it adjusts to the new posture.
- Orthostatic or postural hypotension occurs
when there is a sudden and significant decrease in the systolic
and/or diastolic blood pressure when a person stands up. It occurs
within three minutes of standing. It is caused by abnormal blood
pressure regulation and becomes more common with aging.
orthostatic (postural) hypotension include:
- The most common symptom is feeling
light-headed or dizzy after standing up from a lying or sitting
position. This usually lasts from a few seconds to minutes.
- Other symptoms include blurring of vision,
loss of consciousness (syncope, fainting), and falls.
of orthostatic (postural) hypotension include:
- inadequate fluid intake or dehydration
- prolonged bed rest or deconditioning
- diabetes, Parkinson's disease
- heart failure or chronic kidney failure
orthostatic (postural) hypotension:
- Drink enough fluids (1.5 – 2 litres or
6 – 8 glasses per day) to avoid dehydration.
- Have the health care provider review
medications to identify any that can cause postural hypotension.
- When waking up in the morning, sit on the
edge of the bed and do calf muscle exercises for 5 minutes before
- Avoid quick position (postural) changes.
- If symptoms appear, sit down quickly and wait
for them to subside.
- Postural hypotension tends to be worse in the
morning, so plan activities for the afternoon or later in the day.
- Avoid prolonged standing, hot environments,
and excessive alcohol use.
- Raise the head end of the bed to 15 to 20
- Compression stockings that are applied up to
thigh level may help to decrease the pooling of blood in the leg
veins. Stockings should be measured by a health professional to
ensure need and appropriate fit.
If orthostatic (postural) hypotension occurs,
your family member should see their health care provider for medical
advice to avoid complications like loss of consciousness and falls
and to identify any underlying problems.
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- The Mayo Clinic's explanation of
orthostatic hypotension is well-organized and complete. It includes
signs and symptoms, causes, and self-care.
Heart Lung and Blood Institute (USA)
- This information
page provides an overview of Orthostatic Hypotension.
- This article describes how hypotension is
& Stroke Foundation
- Understanding Low Blood Pressure describes
low blood pressure and discusses a number of causes.
- Low Blood Pressure describes common
causes and when to seek medical attention.
- Introduction to Low Blood Pressure in
Merck's Online Medical Library includes links to Fainting and
Orthostatic Hypotension. Causes, symptoms and treatment are