Postural Hypotension: What It Is and How to Manage It

Postural (orthostatic) hypotension is when your blood pressure drops when you go from lying down to sitting up, or from sitting to standing. When your blood pressure drops, less blood can go to your organs and muscles. This can make you more likely to fall, and falls can be dangerous.

Although many people with postural hypotension have no symptoms, others do. These symptoms can differ from person to person, and may include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling about to faint, passing out, or falling
  • Headaches, blurry or tunnel vision
  • Feeling vague or muddled
  • Feeling pressure across the back of your shoulders or neck
  • Feeling nauseous, or hot and clammy
  • Weakness or fatigue

Postural hypotension can be caused by or linked to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes, heart failure, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries
  • Taking some diuretics, antidepressants, or medicines to lower blood pressure
  • Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and some types of dementia
  • Dehydration
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia
  • Alcoholism
  • Prolonged bed rest

How to manage postural hypotension

  • Tell your health care provider about any symptoms.
  • Ask if any of your medicines should be reduced or stopped.
  • Get out of bed slowly. First sit up, sit on the side of the bed, then stand up.
  • Take your time when changing position, such as when getting up from a chair.
  • Try to sit down when washing, showering, dressing, or working in the kitchen.
  • Exercise gently before getting up (move your feet up and down and clench and unclench your hands) or after standing (march in place).
  • Make sure you have something to hold on to when you stand up.
  • Don’t 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 taking very hot baths or showers.
  • Try sleeping with extra pillows to raise your head.

If you have symptoms often, see your doctor for a check-up.

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