Risks of Postural Hypotension

Have you ever stood up after sitting for a while and gotten lightheaded? That is called postural hypotension and it becomes more common as we age. Unfortunately, it also puts people at risk of falling.

Recognizing it is important, and it doesn’t just happen when going from sitting to standing. It can also happen when you go from lying down to sitting up if you have consumed a large meal or any alcohol if you start feeling anxious or panicky if you are straining on the toilet, if you are ill, or even just in the morning when your blood pressure is naturally lower.

Postural hypotension can be caused by or linked to many factors including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, prolonged bed rest, taking some diuretics, antidepressants, or medicines to lower blood pressure, neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and some types of dementia, dehydration, Vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia, or even alcoholism.

So what can you do to help stave it off? Here are a few simple tips:

  • Get out of bed slowly. First sit up, sit on the side of the bed, then stand up.
  • Take your time when changing position, such as when getting up from a chair.
  • Try to sit down when washing, showering, dressing, or working in the kitchen.
  • Exercise gently before getting up (move your feet up and down and clench and unclench your hands) or after standing (march in place).
  • Make sure you have something to hold on to when you stand up.
  • Do not walk if you feel dizzy.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water or low-calorie drinks each day—unless you have been told to limit your fluid intake.
  • Avoid taking very hot baths or showers.
  • Try sleeping with extra pillows to raise your head.

If you are still having troubles, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and any risk factors you might have such as medications.