Postural hypotension — also called “orthostatic hypotension”— is a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting or lying down. “Postural” means change with standing and “hypotension” means low blood pressure.
With postural hypotension, your blood pressure drops too low when you stand up. Postural hypotension can make you feel nauseated, dizzy or lightheaded, and maybe even cause you to faint.
Postural hypotension may be mild and last for less than a few seconds to minutes. However, long-lasting postural hypotension can signal more-serious problems, so it’s important to see a doctor if you frequently feel lightheaded when standing up.
Occasional (acute) postural hypotension is usually caused by something obvious, such as dehydration or lengthy bed rest, and is easily treated. Chronic postural hypotension is usually a sign of another health problem, so treatment will vary.
It is important to follow up with your physician if this condition is experienced, because a drop in blood pressure when you stand up can affect how much blood gets to the brain. It can disturb your balance and make you feel dizzy and fatigued. It can also cause you to fall and get hurt.
The most common symptom is lightheadedness or dizziness when you stand up after sitting or lying down.
Some people do not feel dizziness, so you may not even realize it’s a problem unless you are checked for it. Symptoms usually last less than a few minutes.
Postural hypotension signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy after standing up
- Blurry vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Your nurse or therapist will check your blood pressure 2 ways: after lying quietly for five minutes, and again after you stand up.
- If the top number of the blood pressure drops more than 20 points or is less than 90 when you stand up, then you have some postural hypotension.
Management of the condition can include:
- Stay hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day (unless your physician has restricted your fluids).
- Get up slowly; clench your fists and flex your calves and ankles 10 times before getting up. This helps raise your blood pressure a little before you get up.
- Sit at the edge of the bed for several minutes taking deep, slow breaths while flexing your calves/ankles before getting up to walk.
- Have an assistive device, such as a cane or walker handy.
- Discuss your medications with your physician and home health care team to determine if you are on a medication that may be causing the problem. Your health care team can determine if any medications can be adjusted.
- Wear compression stockings.
Those experiencing postural hypotension can enhance safety and independence by engaging the services of a professional home health caregiver, such as those provided by Nightingale Homecare. We can help with safe ambulation and transfers, provide necessary assistance when sitting or standing up to prevent falls, help monitor medications to ensure they’re taken exactly as prescribed, perform blood pressure checks and other vital sign monitoring, and so much more. Contact our top-rated Phoenix home care agency at (602) 504-1555 to request a free in-home consultation to learn more.