PhotoBlood pressure problems are a nagging issue for many people across the U.S., but don’t be too quick to ignore signs of something that may be even more dangerous. A new study shows that people who get dizzy several minutes after they stand up could be suffering from orthostatic hypotension, a condition that is characterized by a severe drop in blood pressure within three minutes of sitting or standing.

Now, you might remember times when you’ve stood up and had a momentary feeling of dizziness. Don’t worry, though; this is a much more common ailment of people who typically have low blood pressure. It can be managed by taking medication and ensuring that you stay hydrated throughout the day.

Orthostatic hypotension is much more serious, and it can lead to stroke and other cardiac problems. Christopher Gibbons, author of the study from Harvard Medical School and Fellow with the American Academy of Neurology, explains that the disease will only get worse if people do not have it taken care of immediately.  

“Our findings suggest that more than half of people with the delayed form of this condition [where blood pressure drops more than three minutes after a change in position] will go on to develop the more serious form of the disease,” he said.

High mortality rate 

For the study, researchers compiled over ten years of data from people suffering from varying forms of the disease. They found that as the disease became more serious, the mortality rate rose dramatically. The death rate for people with delayed orthostatic hypotension (the milder form of the disease) was 29% over 10 years. Those suffering from the regular form of orthostatic hypotension (which is more severe in nature) had a death rate of 64%.

The scary thing about this condition is that you can progress from having the milder form to having the more severe form. Participants who made this transition had a death rate of 50%. Researchers were able to determine that certain pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, made participants more likely to make this transition as well.

The researchers hope that their study will help people recognize problematic symptoms and get help right away. “Our findings may lead to earlier recognition, diagnosis and treatments of this condition and possibly other underlying diseases that may contribute to early death,” said Gibbons.

Additonally, they want to stress that their data only reflects a limited number of participants and that it may not be indicative of the world population as a whole. The full study has been published in the online journal Neurology

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