Orthostatic hypotension (also known as postural hypotension and, colloquially, as head rush) is a sudden fall in blood pressure that occurs when a person assumes a standing position. more...
Symptoms, which generally occur after sudden standing, include dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, and syncope (temporary loss of consciousness).
It may be caused by hypovolemia (a decreased amount of blood in the body), resulting from the excessive use of diuretics, vasodilators, or other types of drugs, dehydration, or prolonged bed rest. It can be a side effect of certain anti-depressants, such as tricyclics. The disorder may be associated with Addison's disease, atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries), diabetes, and certain neurological disorders including Shy-Drager syndrome and other forms of dysautonomia.
Treatment and management
When orthostatic hypotension is caused by hypovolemia due to medications, the disorder may be reversed by adjusting the dosage or by discontinuing the medication. When the condition is caused by prolonged bed rest, improvement may occur by sitting up with increasing frequency each day. In some cases, physical counterpressure such as elastic hose or whole-body inflatable suits may be required (such as Jobst stockings). Dehydration is treated with salt and fluids.
The prognosis for individuals with orthostatic hypotension depends on the underlying cause of the condition.
Some drugs that are used in the treatment of orthostatic hypotension include fludrocortisone (Florinef), erythropoietin and midrodrine.
Some suggestions for minimizing the effects include:
- Checking blood pressure regularly with a home monitoring kit. Check when lying flat and when standing as well as when symptoms occur.
- Standing slowly rather than quickly, as the delay can give the blood vessels more time to constrict properly. This can help avoid incidents of syncope.
- Maintaining an elevated salt intake, through sodium supplements or electrolyte-enriched drinks. A suggested value is 10 g per day; overuse can lead to hypertension and should be avoided.
- Maintaining a proper fluid intake to prevent the effects of dehydration.
- As eating lowers blood pressure, eating multiple smaller meals rather than fewer larger meals. Taking extra care when standing after eating.
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