Postural Hypotension

Postural Hypotension: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

You may have suffered occasional dizziness, but postural hypotension is a serious issue. Now you may wonder what postural hypotension is. The dizziness or lightheaded feeling you experience once you stand after sitting for a long time is known as postural hypotension. The occasional lightheadedness or dizziness is a common occurrence. So, it is a minor condition that needs no medical attention. But, the frequent occurrence of the issue is a cause of concern.

The dizziness due to low blood pressure is referred to as postural hypotension that is also known as orthostatic hypotension. You need to make sure that you do not ignore the issue.it is a serious condition that can prove fatal. Consider the scenario when you are driving your vehicle and experience postural hypotension. It can lead to accidents or other fatal consequences. So, you need to keep a record of the symptoms. The details about the occurrence of the issue, the duration, etc. are essential for discussing the issue with your doctor.

What Is Postural Hypotension?

Postural Hypotension
Source: Speciality Medical Dialogues

The sudden drop in your blood pressure is known as postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. It can mostly occur due to the change in your posture. Most people experience it while standing up quickly after sitting for some time. During the postural hypotension, the blood pressure in your arteries falls below the normal. Your heart pumps the blood for all the organs of the body through the blood vessels. The blood pressure is measured by calculating the force with which the blood gets pumped through the walls of the arteries. When the pressure levels become low, it reduces the blood flow. So, the insufficient blood pressure leads to blurred vision, fainting or dizziness.

What Happens During Postural Hypotension?

Postural hypotension causes a sudden drop in your blood pressure levels. When you stand up after a lying down or sitting for a long time, you feel light headed. It is due to the fact that due to the gravity, the blood pools in your legs. So, when you stand, your body works to push the blood pooled in the legs upward. It is to supply your brain with sufficient oxygen levels. Your brain needs oxygen to function properly. Therefore, the exertion of the body can drop pressure levels. It is a fairly common condition that requires no particular treatment. But, the regular postural hypotension symptoms point to the underlying medical condition.

It is a common condition in people who are above 65 years of age. So, the delayed response of the body in the older people due to the drop in blood pressure leads off the issue. It is a common phenomenon as the majority of men as well as women above the age of 65 can suffer from the problem. Therefore, it is a common problem of hospital admissions around the world.

Causes Of Postural Hypotension

You know about the gravitational pull, isn’t it? It causes the blood to pool in your abdominal region as well as the legs when you sit or lie down. It results in a decrease in blood pressure. The less blood circulation to the heart is the underlying reason for the drop in blood pressure. You have cells near the neck and heart arteries that can sense the drop in blood pressure. The special cells known as baroreceptors can send the signals to your brain regarding the low blood pressure. So, the brain, in turn, responds by making the heart beat faster. It results in the more pumping of the blood to stabilize the drop in blood pressure. The cells also have the power to narrow the blood vessels that results in elevated blood pressure.

Postural hypotension happens when the body’s natural process of the balancing of low blood pressure gets interrupted. Several conditions can cause postural hypotension like:

Dehydration

Dehydration refers to the loss of water or fluids in your body. Vomiting, fever, or loss of fluid through profuse sweating can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can lead to diarrhea. So, the condition can cause postural hypotension. It makes you feel weak, dizzy, and exhausted. The decrease in the fluid in your body reduces the blood volume leading to the condition.

Endocrine Problems

The issues to the endocrine system can cause several health problems like:

  • Addison’s disease (Adrenal insufficiency)
  • Thyroid Condition
  • Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar)

The problems can lead to postural hypotension as well as diabetes. It damages the nerves that send a signal to the brain for regulating blood pressure.

Heart Problems

The heart problems can lead to the drop in the blood pressure levels. The different heart issues that can contribute to the issues are:

  • Heart valve problems
  • Low heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Attack

The conditions prevent your body from responding to increase the blood pumping. Therefore, it leads to the postural hypotension while standing up.

Nervous System Complications

The problems in your central nervous system can disrupt the blood pressure in your body. So, it causes problems in the normal body function leading to postural hypotension. The different nervous system disorders leading to the issue are:

  • Multiple System Atrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Amyloidosis
  • Pure Autonomic Failure

The issues adversely affect the pressure regulation system and lead to postural hypotension.

After Having Food

Older people have several health issues. One among them is the postural hypotension. It affects them after eating food. The condition is very common and it is known as postprandial hypotension.

Risk Factors Associated With Postural Hypotension

Some people are more prone to the issue compared to others. So, the main factors that increase your chance of getting postural hypotension are:

Age

The baroreceptors or the special cells that regulate the blood pressure near the neck and heart arteries. As you grow older, the cells can slow down. So, it can lead to postural hypotension. It becomes harder for the heart faster to compensate for the blood pressure drop with the aging factor. Therefore, people above 65 years of age can experience the issue.

Medications

The side-effects of certain medications include the drop in blood pressure. Therefore, people taking the medication for heart disease or blood pressure can experience postural hypotension. When you take the following medications, you must talk to your doctor about the possible drop in blood pressure.

  • Alpha Blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Beta Blockers
  • Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Nitrates

Other medications also increase the risk of low blood pressure. The medications or disease that can lead to the postural hypotension are:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Parkinson’s disease medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Erectile dysfunction medications
  • Narcotics

Some medication used in combination with the blood pressure medication can induce postural hypotension. So, talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication.

Certain Diseases

If you have the following diseases, then you have more chances of experiencing the symptoms of postural hypotension.

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Heart valve problems
  • Failure of heart
  • Heart attack
  • Neuropathy or nerves damage (diseases like diabetes)

Bed Rest

Staying in bed as a part of prolonged illness can make you weak. So, it increases your chance of getting dizzy when you stand up. Therefore, the best rest results in postural hypotension.

Heat Exposure

The exposure to the hot atmosphere can make you sweat. So, you can lose more fluids from your body resulting in dehydration. Dehydration can trigger the low blood pressure making you dizzy and lightheaded.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause vast changes in a woman’s body and hormones. As the circulatory system expands during the pregnancy, a woman can experience a drop in blood pressure. So, the postural hypotension is common in pregnancy, which returns to normal after giving birth.

Complications Of Postural Hypotension

Ignoring any health problem is a big no-no. Especially for something serious like postural hypotension. Not seeking treatment can result in severe complication. So, you have to experience problems like:

Falls

You may frequently fall as a result of fainting spells (syncope). It is a common complication associated with the postural hypotension. The falls can results in broken bones, injuries or trauma that can prove fatal.

Stroke

Stroke

The blood pressure variation while you sit or stand due to the postural hypotension can increase your chance of getting a stroke. The reason is the reduced blood to the brain. So, it is a serious complication.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Postural hypotension can increase the chance of getting cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, people with low blood pressure increases the probability to experience issues like:

Symptoms Of Postural Hypotension

When you suffer from postural hypotension, you can experience some common signs or symptoms. Therefore, watch out for the following signs:

The symptoms you experience may go away without any medical attention. It can also change when you change your posture. So, sitting slowly in an upright position or standing slowly can avoid the postural hypotension. But, severe cases with underlying conditions need medical treatment.

Diagnosis Of Postural Hypotension

If you suffer from the above-mentioned symptoms, then it means you need medical attention. So, you have to seek the doctor’s appointment to get it tested. The diagnostic tests can determine the actual reason for the issue. Therefore, it helps your doctor to devise a treatment plan to alleviate the discomfort.

Medical History

It is the first step your doctor takes to know the root cause of the issue. The doctor asks you about the previous diseases, the medication you take, and the symptoms you suffer. So, it helps to know if any medication is the cause of the issue. Depending on the findings, your doctor may adjust the dose or find alternative medication to avoid postural hypotension.

Head-Up Tilt Table Test

Your doctor suggests the head-up tilt table test to observe the results of your blood pressure when the body’s position changes. During the test, you need to lie on a table. It is slowly tilted upward to record blood pressure levels.

Blood Tests

The blood work can show the presence of the underlying diseases that cause the postural hypotension like:

  • Low Sugar Levels
  • Low Red Blood Cells

The issue can lead to low blood pressure levels. So, you need to get the blood tested to get the actual reasons for the issue.

ECG/EKG

The electrocardiogram can monitor the electrical signals of your heart. So, it can uncover the irregularities in your heart rhythm. It also reveals the blood and oxygen supply to your heart. Based on the findings, your doctor can suggest treatment.

Ultrasound

The ultrasound offers a clear image of the structure of the heart and its abnormalities. It will uncover any issues causing the disorder.

Stress Test

Stress Test

The stress test can monitor the heart rate while you exercise or after you take any medication.

Treatment For Postural Hypotension

Depending on the findings of the diagnostic tests, your doctor determines the actual problem. So, you get a suggestion to overcome the issue. The following treatment plan is opted by your doctor to overcome postural hypotension:

Lifestyle Changes

The simple yet effective treatment option is lifestyle changes. Making small changes can go a long way. So, you can consider following the steps described below to ensure you avoid low blood pressure:

  • Drinking 8-10 glasses of water every day to stay hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol and overheating
  • Take low-carb meals
  • Elevating the head on the bed
  • Crossing legs while sitting

Compression Stockings

Compression Stockings

The compression stockings are really helpful for older people who have postural hypotension. Therefore, using the abdominal binder or compression garments can limit the symptoms of low blood pressure.

Medications

Your doctor may suggest a medication that you can take alone or in combination with other medication. So, it will overcome the postural hypotension. The common medication provided to increase the blood pressure levels depending on the cause are:

  • Fludrocortisone: It enhances the fluid levels in your body and overcomes the low blood pressure.
  • Midodrine: It limits the expansion of the blood vessels and elevates the blood pressure
  • Droxidopa: your doctor suggests the medication overcome postural hypotension due to taking Parkinson’s disease, pure autonomic failure or multiple system atrophy.
  • The NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) drugs used alone or in combination with other medications can overcome the low blood pressure.

Home Remedies To Overcome Postural Hypotension

You need to talk to your doctor on the topic of managing the postural hypotension at home. With some easy steps, you can prevent the issue. Therefore, you need to take the following steps:

Salt Intake

You may have heard that the salt intake can increase the blood pressure. So, salt consumption is a remedy for low blood pressure. But, talk to your doctor and get the medical opinion before taking the step. With the doctor’s suggestions, you can prevent new health risks.

Small Meals

You may suffer from low blood pressure after having your food. So, your doctor can suggest eating small meals. The low carbohydrate meals can overcome the issue of blood pressure drop after eating food.

Vitamin Supplements

The vitamin B-12 deficiency and anemia can reduce the blood flow. So, it can worsen the postural hypotension symptoms. Therefore, you need to take iron tablets and vitamin supplements to treat the deficiency.

Hydration

Good hydration can eliminate the chances of dehydration. Plenty of fluids can keep a balance in the body. So, it will prevent the signs of low blood pressure. When you indulge in strenuous physical activity or stand for long periods of time, you need to drink more water. It will curb the symptoms that trigger the discomfort.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is not good for your body. It can worsen the postural hypotension. So, it is better to avoid or limit it completely.

Exercise

You need to include strengthening and cardiovascular exercise. It will help reduce postural hypotension. Avoiding exercise in the humid and hot weather can exhaust you. You also need to stretch and flex your muscles. So, you can reduce the symptoms with regular physical activity. Squeeze your muscles in the thigh, buttocks, and abdominal area to overcome the dizziness.

Get Up Slowly

Sudden movement is the main reason for the dizziness. So, you need to get up or stand up slowly. It can reduce the lightheadedness or dizziness associated with postural hypotension. The slow movement from the lying/sitting to the standing position can reduce the symptoms. When you get up from the bed, you need to sit on the edge of the bed for a minute. Therefore, with simple tips, you can reduce the discomfort.

Avoid Bending

The bending at your waist levels can drop the blood pressure. So, when you drop something, it is better to take it by squatting. Squatting with the knees can help avoid the dizziness.

Elevate The Head

When you sleep, it is ideal to elevate the head. The slight elevation can help you fight the effects of the gravitational pull. So, you can ensure you do not feel dizzy after getting up from the bed.

Move Legs

When you stand for a long time, the blood can pool. So, it can cause the symptoms of postural hypotension to crop up. You need to squeeze your thighs, put one foot on a chair/ledge, or cross the thighs in scissor fashion. The steps can encourage blood flow. So, the constant flow of blood from legs to the heart can overcome the low blood pressure.

Conclusion

The postural hypotension is a common condition that looks simple but has severe complications. Therefore, getting adequate medical assistance can help you take the right steps to ensure good health. Never ignore the problem as it can lead to a severe complication that may prove irreversible. So, take the right action for maintaining a healthy and happy life.

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