Have you ever experienced standing up, then suddenly feeling dizzy or disoriented? This phenomenon is known as orthostatic hypotension, which is caused by a sudden drop in your blood pressure when you suddenly stand up.
What is orthostatic hypotension?
Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden decrease in a person’s blood pressure within three minutes of standing up. A person can either be seated or lying down when this happens.
This happens because when a person stands up, gravity pulls down blood into the lower extremities. What happens is that there is a temporary reduction in the amount of blood in the upper body which causes a lower blood pressure.
Usually, the body is able to compensate for this, and counteracts the force of gravity. But in some people, the body might not respond quickly enough, and so they experience the symptoms associated with a drop in blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of a sudden drop in blood pressure?
The most common symptoms of orthostatic hypotension are dizziness or lightheadedness. These symptoms occur because there is a reduction in blood flow to the brain.
However, it is also possible for people to experience more severe symptoms.
Here are some other possible symptoms that people can experience:
- Blurred vision
- Syncope or fainting
- Muscle pain
- Lower back pain
Most of these symptoms last for a few minutes, and go away after some time.
However, the symptoms associated with this condition can sometimes get worse or last longer if a person spends a lot of time standing up. Physical exertion, eating a lot of food, and warm temperatures can also aggravate the symptoms.
What causes it?
A number of things can cause this condition to happen. First, being dehydrated or lacking enough fluids in the body can trigger orthostatic hypotension.
Certain heart conditions, such as low heart rate, heart valve problems, or people who have experienced a heart attack or heart failure can also be more prone to having a blood pressure drop when standing up.
Another possible cause of blood pressure drop when standing is eating big meals. However, this is most common among the elderly, who, incidentally, are also more prone to orthostatic hypotension.
Endocrine problems such as low blood sugar, and Addison’s disease are also responsible for blood pressure drop when standing. What happens is that these conditions can sometimes cause damage to the nerves responsible for regulating blood pressure.
Being pregnant, and being exposed to high temperatures can also increase a person’s risk for orthostatic hypotension.
Should you be worried about it?
If you rarely experience blood pressure drop when standing up, then there is nothing to be worried about. It is a normal occurrence, and it happens to most people from time to time.
However, if you experience it frequently, or if the symptoms last for more than a few minutes, it might be a good idea to visit your doctor.
Orthostatic hypotension can possibly lead to a stroke, mainly due to the sudden lack of blood flow to the brain. Another complication would be chest pain, heart rhythm problems, as well as other cardiovascular illnesses. Lastly, fainting from the blood pressure drop when standing can be a problem, because it could lead to a fall.
This is why it is important to be mindful of your symptoms and to not dismiss it as a normal occurrence. If you think that there’s something wrong, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it.
What can you do about it?
The first thing to do would be to visit your doctor for a consultation. Usually, they will conduct a series of tests to find out any possible causes for your orthostatic hypotension. The tests include blood pressure monitoring, an ECG test, blood tests, stress tests, and a tilt-table test.
In particular, the tilt-table test can help your doctor see how your body reacts to changes in your position. During this test your blood pressure will also be taken.
Once a diagnosis has been determined, your doctor will give you advice on what you can do about your condition.
Here are some ways to help deal with a sudden blood pressure drop when standing up:
- Your doctor might suggest that you do some lifestyle changes. This includes engaging in more exercise, and eating healthier foods. This should help regulate your blood pressure better and prevent sudden blood pressure drops when standing up.
- Wearing compression stockings can help prevent blood from pooling in your legs, and lowers the chances of orthostatic hypotension.
- Your doctor might also prescribe certain types of medication. These can help raise your blood pressure, so it’s important to stay healthy and follow your doctor’s advice on how to take your medication to avoid any side-effects.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.