What is Orthostatic Hypotension?
What is Orthostatic Hypotension? Orthostatic hypotension is a condition of low blood pressure that occurs when a person stands from a sitting or sleep position which is also commonly known as postural hypotension. This condition can cause sufferers experience dizziness, head spin, even to faint.
When it occurs, orthostatic hypotension can last several seconds to several minutes. If it occurs repeatedly over a long period of time, orthostatic hypotension may be a sign of a more serious medical disorder.
Mild orthostatic hypotension can interfere with the activity of the sufferer. There are, however, some more serious complications in orthostatic hypotension, such as:
- Falling. Fainting is a common complication in orthostatic hypotension.
- Cardiovascular Disease. Orthostatic hypotension may be a risk factor
Cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure or heart rate disorders.
- Stroke. A sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands can be a risk factor for stroke, as this condition can lead to a lack of blood supply to the brain.
Orthostatic Hypotension Symptoms
Symptoms are something that is felt and told by the patient. The symptoms most often felt by orthostatic hypotension sufferers are dizzy when standing from a sitting or sleeping position. Some other symptoms are:
- Temporary disturbance of the sense of hearing.
- Pain in the neck and shoulders.
- Blurred vision.
Causes and Risk Factors Orthostatic Hypotension
When a person awakens to a standing position, his blood will come down to the foot due to the influence of gravity. This causes a drop in blood pressure due to the reduced amount of blood flowing back to the heart for pumping.
When normal, special cells near the heart and neck vessels will identify the condition of blood pressure drop. Then the cells send signals to the brain to speed up the heartbeat and pump more blood, so the blood pressure becomes stable.
Orthostatic hypotension will occur when something inhibits the body’s natural processes to cope with lower blood pressure. Some conditions that can lead to orthostatic hypotension are:
- After eating. In some people, blood pressure will drop after he / she consumes food. This generally occurs in the elderly.
- Disorders of the endocrine glands. Thyroid disorders, adrenal insufficiency, low blood sugar, and diabetes can trigger low blood pressure.
- Impaired heart function. Some heart disorders can cause a drop in blood pressure.
- Dehydration. This condition can cause the body to lose blood volume.
- Nervous system disorders. Some neurological disorders can also interfere with the body’s system that regulates blood pressure to normal.
Factors that affect the risk of orthostatic hypotension are:
- Age. A person 65 and older is usually susceptible to orthostatic hypotension.
- Bed rest. A patient who has to sleep or lie too long due to illness may experience orthostatic hypotension while trying to stand up.
- Drugs. Patients who are taking certain drugs have a greater risk for orthostatic hypotension.
- Some diseases. Conditions such as heart valve disorders, heart attacks, heart failure, and nervous system disorders make a person at greater risk of orthostatic hypotension.
- Pregnancy. Blood pressure will usually decrease in pregnant conditions, because the circulatory system is developing rapidly.
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages. This habit can increase the risk of orthostatic hypotension.
- Exposure to heat. People exposed to heat can become dehydrated and trigger orthostatic hypotension when trying to stand up.
Diagnosis of Orthostatic Hypotension
Diagnosis is a doctor’s step to identify the cause, disease or condition based on symptoms and clinical signs experienced by the patient. The purpose of the doctor when diagnosing orthostatic hypotension is to know the cause so that appropriate action can be taken to heal the patient.
The first action a doctor makes to diagnose an orthostatic hypotensive patient is to examine the patient’s medical records, evaluate symptoms, and perform a physical examination. Some other actions doctors can take to diagnose orthostatic hypotension are:
- Blood test. This procedure to obtain comprehensive information about the patient’s health condition, among others, whether the blood sugar level is low, is there a decrease in the number of red blood cells (anemia).
- Monitor blood pressure. The doctor will measure the patient’s blood pressure in a sitting position and a standing position, then compare the results.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test will be performed to get a picture of heart rate, heart structure, and the condition of blood and oxygen supply to the patient’s heart muscle.
- Echocardiogram. This test will result in imaging of the patient’s heart organs.
- Stress test. This procedure is performed when the patient is exercising, such as a walk on a treadmill, or when a patient is given medication to make his heart work harder.
- The test table is skewed. This test will evaluate how the patient’s body reacts to changes in position.
- Valsalva Maneuver. This test aims to test the function of the autonomic nervous system by analyzing heart rate and blood pressure after the patient undergoes several deep breathing cycles (taking deep breaths).
Treatment of Orthostatic Hypotension
The treatment of orthostatic hypotension chosen by the doctor depends on the cause. For mild orthostatic hypotension, the patient only needs a simple handling step, that is immediately sitting or lying down after feeling lost balance. Usually, symptoms of orthostatic hypotension will disappear after the patient is sitting or lying down.
The steps of treating other orthostatic hypotension are:
- Stocking compression. This tool will help to reduce blood in the legs as hard back to the heart, so will reduce the appearance of symptoms of orthostatic hypotension.
- Drugs. Some medicines may be taken to reduce orthostatic hypotension.
- Lifestyle changes. Patients will be encouraged to consume more fluids, reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages, avoid walking when the weather is hot, elevating the head of the bed, and stood slowly.