Orthostatic Hypotension

Managing orthostatic hypotension for your safety

Orthostatic hypotension – also known as postural hypotension – is a form of low blood pressure.

It happens when the blood vessels do not constrict (tighten) as you stand up from a sitting or lying position.

It can also be experienced as a side-effect of medication taken for Parkinson’s, or when a person is taking anti-hypertensive medications when they are no longer required. Orthostatic hypotension can also be a pointer to a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Its symptoms include:

  • Feeling dizzy or light- headed
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Feeling confused
  • Headache
  • Feeling faint
  • Fainting
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Chest pain

How to manage orthostatic hypotension:

  • Do not sit or stand or be inactive for long periods
  • Avoid activity in the heat
  • Stay cool
  • Prior to getting up, move your toes around and adjust your heels and calf muscles
  • Allow your feet to dangle on the floor for a short time if getting out of bed
  • Gentle marching leg movements may also help
  • Get up slowly, stand for a short time and monitor for steadiness
  • If feeling dizzy or faint, sit with your legs elevated until the feeling passes
  • Ensure that you are well hydrated – drink a glass of water prior to getting up
  • If feeling dizzy at the end of a meal, try having a glass of water then
  • Reach over slowly and find a hand-hold to prevent over balancing
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently
  • Avoid straining whilst having bowels open
  • Avoid vigorous exercise
  • Avoid caffeine at night
  • Avoid hot foods and drinks
  • Drink extra water if you are going to be standing for long periods
  • Drink less alcohol due to its dehydrating effect
  • Request a medication review of the blood pressure medications which you may be taking for hypertension as these may be able to be reduced or ceased.

Parkinson’s NSW Nurse specialist, Cathy Melton recently presented an online information session discussing orthostatic or postural hypotension which you can view by clicking the image below. Note, sharing with participants consent

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