Postural hypotension: A drop in blood pressure (hypotension) due to a change in body position (posture) when a person moves to a more vertical position: from sitting to standing or from lying down to sitting or standing. Postural hypotension is more common in older people.
The change in position causes a temporary reduction in blood flow and therefore a shortage of oxygen to the brain. This leads to lightheadedness and, sometimes, a "black out" episode, a loss of consciousness.
Tilt-table testing can be used to confirm postural hypotension. Tilt-table testing involves placing the patient on a table with a foot-support. The table is tilted upward and blood pressure and pulse is measured while symptoms are recorded in various positions.
No treatment is needed for postural hypotension. If someone with postural hypotension faints, they will regain consciousness by simply sitting or lying down.
The person is thereafter advised to exercise caution and slow the process of changing positions from lying to sitting to standing. This simple technique can allow the body to adjust to the new position and permit the nerves to circulation of the legs to adjust slower in older person.
Postural hypotension is also called orthostatic hypotension.
Quick GuideLow Blood Pressure (Hypotension): Symptoms, Signs, Causes
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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016