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Postural Hypotension - Treatment, Symptoms, Causes

Updated on January 6, 2014

What is Postural Hypotension?

This medical condition is related to blood pressure diseases. It happens when someone goes from a sitting or lying position to a standing position to fast. At some point in their life everyone has experienced postural hypotension as it can happen to anyone at any age without regards to gender or race although it is more prominent in certain group of people. This group includes older adults, individuals that have poor circulation systems, athletes if they sit down right after exercising hard, and people with diabetes. It is also called orthostatic hypotension, which is a feeling of nausea or dizziness when changing positions.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of this medical condition is feeling dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up too fast and usually only lasts a few seconds. Some of the other symptoms may include:

  • Having blurry or dimmed vision and can even be momentary blindness.
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Distortions or a temporary decrease in their hearing.

Causes

When a person stands up too fast after sitting or lying down it will cause the blood to pool in your legs, causing a drop in your blood pressure. The reason is there is less blood circulation back to the heart to pump. Your brain also experiences a momentary shortage of blood. There can also be other causes for postural hypotension which can include:

  • Having an underlying medical condition such as anemia, spinal cord injuries, or hypovolemia, this means low blood volume.
  • Loss of blood due to an accident
  • Multiple system atrophy, which is a degenerative neurological order, is rare, and can cause the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  • General Dysautonomia which is any malfunction or disease of the autonomic nervous system. This system controls different functions in your body like your blood pressure, and heart rate.
  • Lewy body syndrome, which is a form of dementia
  • Disturbance in your heart rate
  • Failure of blood pressure sensors
  • Problems with your nervous system
  • Nervous system dysfunction that is involuntary
  • Having a blockage in a blood vessel or in your cardiac system.
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes

Diagnosis

The important thing in diagnosing this medical condition is to find out what is causing the problem in the first place and then treat what is causing it. There are several ways in which to diagnosis postural hypotension, which may include:

  • Monitoring your blood pressure while you are sitting and then while you are standing for a set period of time decided on by your physician. Your physician will take these numbers and compare them Your physician can diagnose if you have postural hypotension if there is a twenty millimeters of mercury drop in the systolic blood pressure, which is the top number and is also the higher number, or if there is a ten millimeters of mercury drop in your diastolic blood pressure. This is the measurement that was taken within three minutes after standing up. The physician can also diagnosis postural hypotension if you have any symptoms when you stand up too fast.
  • Blood tests - doing a blood test will let the physician know if you have a low number of red blood cells which can be an indication of anemia or if you have low blood sugar, a symptom of diabetes.
  • Stress tests - since there are some heart problems that can cause you to have low blood pressure it is easier to diagnosis the problems if your heart is working harder than it does when you are resting.

Treatment

The main treatment is to treat the underlying cause. If you have a mild case of postural hypotension the simplest treatment for it is to lie or sit down immediately after you stand up and start to feel dizzy. If the low blood pressure is caused by medication this would involve either stopping the medicine entirely and trying another one or changing the dosage.

Some other types of treatment can include:

  • Making changes in your lifestyle which can include making sure that you are drinking enough fluids, especially water, to keep your body hydrated, standing up slowly, not walking outside when it is hot, and drinking very little or no alcohol. You should also try to exercise and if you do not have high blood pressure the physician may suggest that you increase the amount of salt that you are including in your diet.
  • If you have varicose veins you may need to wear compression stockings which are used to help relieve the swelling and pain along with reducing the pooling of blood in your lets
  • There are also many different medications that you can use together or alone to help with postural hypotension. For example, the physician may prescribe fludrosortisone to help increase the amount of fluid that is in your blood.

If you occasionally have postural hypotension it should be nothing to worry about but if starts to happen more then you should see your physician.

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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and very useful.

      Voted up for sure.

      Eddy.

    • profile image

      Jenna 2 years ago

      I agree extra training and eicdatuon are so vary vital for our profession as massage therapists. It's great to see that the massage associations pushing for better CEU eicdatuon. The leaps and bounds of our profession can be attributed to those people that take the time to see that we as therapists are seen as professionals and deserve to be in a place of recognition. I believe that in the next five years you will see a dramatic increase in eicdatuonal standards as far as schooling go's. The amount of Anatomy and Physiology that is taught to a massage therapist is comparable to a pre-med course, so you can bet that the state will move to a 1200 hr course syllabus across the country vary soon. Lets face it soft tissue manipulation is on the rise in the medical, recreational and any number of other fields because more and more people are becoming aware of its overwhelming healing potential. It's only a matter of time till we are seen and respected as much as a Dr. or physical therapist.

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