Orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension)

Orthostatic hypotension — also called postural hypotension — is a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting or lying down. Orthostatic hypotension can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded, and maybe even faint.

Orthostatic hypotension is often mild, lasting a few seconds to a few minutes after standing. However, long-lasting orthostatic hypotension can be a sign of more-serious problems, so talk to your doctor if you frequently feel lightheaded when standing up. It's even more urgent to see a doctor if you lose consciousness, even momentarily.

Mild orthostatic hypotension often doesn't need treatment. Many people occasionally feel dizzy or lightheaded after standing, and it's usually not cause for concern. The treatment for more-severe cases of orthostatic hypotension depends on the cause.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

The most common symptom of orthostatic hypotension is feeling lightheaded or dizzy when you stand up after sitting or lying down. This feeling, and other symptoms, usually happens shortly after standing up and generally lasts only a few seconds. Orthostatic hypotension signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy after standing up
  • Blurry vision
  • Weakness
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

When to see a doctor

Occasional dizziness or lightheadedness may be relatively minor — the result of mild dehydration, low blood sugar, or too much time in the sun or a hot tub, for example. Dizziness or lightheadedness may also happen when you stand after sitting for a long time, such as in a lecture, concert or church. If these symptoms happen only occasionally, it's usually not cause for concern.

It's important to see your doctor if you experience frequent symptoms of orthostatic hypotension because they sometimes can point to more-serious problems. It can be helpful to keep a record of your symptoms, when they occurred, how long they lasted and what you were doing at the time. If these occur at times that may endanger you or others, discuss this with your doctor.

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