Postural Hypotension or orthostatic hypotensionis a form of low blood pressure that causes lightheadedness or dizziness when you stand up from sitting or lying down or straining on the toilet. Other symptoms include: blurry vision, weakness, confusion, nausea and fainting. Symptoms usually last less than a few minutes.
Orthostatic hypotension is usually caused by dehydration, low blood sugar, being overheated or lengthy bed rest as well as medications such as diuretics, antidepressants or medicines to lower your blood pressure.
Frequent orthostatic hypotension can be a signal for serious problems, such as:
Dehydration-Fever, vomiting, not drinking enough fluids, severe diarrhea and strenuous exercise with excessive sweating can all lead to dehydration, which decreases blood volume.
Heart problems-Some heart conditions that can lead to low blood pressure include extremely low heart rate, heart valve problems, heart attack and heart failure. These conditions prevent your body from responding rapidly enough to pump more blood when standing up.
Endocrine problems-Thyroid conditions and diabetes damages the nerves that help send signals regulating blood pressure.
Nervous system disorders-Parkinson’s disease can disrupt your body’s normal blood pressure regulation system.
It is important to tell your health care provider about any episodes of lightheadedness or dizziness that you experience. Persistent orthostatic hypotension can cause serious complications, especially in older adults. These include:
Falls. Falling down is a common complication in people with orthostatic hypotension.
Stroke. The swings in blood pressure when you stand and sit as a result of orthostatic hypotension can be a risk factor for a stroke due to the reduced blood supply to the brain.
Cardiovascular diseases. Orthostatic hypotension can be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and complications, such as chest pain, heart failure or heart rhythm problems.
What can you do to manage your orthostatic hypotension?
Do not stop taking any of your medication without first discussing with your health care provider.
Keep a record of your symptoms, when they occur, how long they last and what you are doing at the time to report to your health care provider.
Get out of bed slowly. First, sit up on the side of the bed, then stand up.
Take your time when changing position, such as when getting up from a chair.
Make sure you have something to hold on to when you stand up. Do not walk if you feel dizzy.
Drink 6-8 glasses of water or low-calorie drinks each day – unless you have been told to limit your fluid intake.
Avoid very hot baths or showers.
Try sleeping with extra pillows to raise your head.
Falls- Every second of every day, an older adult falls. Many of these falls cause injuries, loss of independence and in some cases, death. Falls can be prevented. Tell a health care provider immediately If you have fallen or if you are worried about falling or seem unsteady. Take the following steps to prevent falls:
Keep an updated list of your medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Replace eyeglasses as necessary.
Have your health care provider check your feet once a year. Discuss proper footwear.
Keep floors clutter-free. Keep objects off the steps. Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall. Remove small throw rugs.
Add grab bars in the bathroom-next to and inside the tub and next to the toilet.
Have handrails on both sides of staircases. Have a light switch installed at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Never use a chair or step stool. Keep things you use often on the lower shelves.
Put in a night light. Some nightlights go on by themselves after dark.
Walking- If you have decided it is time to start walking for health, fitness and weight loss, you’ve already taken the first step. Walking is an effective, natural way to achieve the daily physical activity amount recommended for weight management and good health, but you need to know the rules of thumb of pedestrian safety:
Walk facing traffic when walking on the side of the road.
Cross safely – look both ways before crossing any street. At controlled intersections, it is wise to cross only when you have the pedestrian crossing light.
Unless you are on a sidewalk separated from the road or in a wide pedestrian or bike lane, walk in single file, this is especially important on a road with curves or where traffic has only a split second chance of seeing you before hitting you.
Share the road or path with bikes and runners.
Wear bright colors when walking in the daylight and reflective or light-colored clothing at night.
Do not text, chat or play games on your phone when walking. Keep the volume down when listening to music with your earbuds or headphones.
Be aware of stranger danger. Choose your walking path frequented by other walkers, joggers or runners. If you see someone suspicious, be prepared to alter your route or go into a store or public building to avoid them. Carry your cell phone.
Know when to stop walking. Heat sickness, dehydration, heart attack or stroke can strike walkers of any age. Stop immediately and call 911 with any signs of a medical emergency.