Orthostatic Hypotension

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideLow Blood Pressure (Hypotension) Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension) Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

What are the risk factors for orthostatic hypotension?

Orthostatic hypotension most often occurs in the elderly. "Hardening of the arteries" or atherosclerosis that develops as we age makes it more difficult for blood vessels to adapt quickly when necessary. As well, many of the diseases that are associated with orthostatic hypotension are progressive, with symptoms worsening with age.

Pregnancy is associated with orthostatic hypotension. As the pregnancy progresses, the volume of the circulatory system expands and blood pressure tends to fall. This may lead to lightheadedness when standing quickly. Blood pressure levels return to normal after delivery.

Excessive sweating due to physical exertion and exposure to heat are risk factors and potential causes of dehydration and symptoms of orthostatic hypotension. Patients who have other risk factors to develop orthostatic hypotension have an increased risk if they become even mildly dehydrated.

Chronic alcohol use and drug abuse are also risk factors for developing symptoms of orthostatic hypotension.

What are the symptoms of orthostatic hypotension?

When the brain does not get enough blood supply, it begins to shut down.

Symptoms include:

There may also be weakness, blurred vision, and shaking or tremulousness.

These symptoms may resolve quickly as the body slowly adjusts to the standing position, but in some cases the patient has to sit or lie down quickly to prevent passing out or falling.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015

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