Postural Hypotension

Postural Hypotension
Postural Hypotension Hypotension is the medical term given for low blood pressure, which basically means that there isn?t enough blood flow to the heart, brain and vital organs. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm HG). For a healthy young person around our age, the normal blood pressure is supposed to be less than 140mm Hg over 90mm Hg. The first number (in this case 140), represents systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart contracts and the second number (in this case 90), is the pressure between the hearts contractions. In most healthy people, blood pressure remains constantly at above 90/60, but blood pressure varies from person to person and what is considered low for one person may be completely normal for another. Chronic low blood pressure is almost never serious, but health problems can occur when blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain isn?t allowed to have a great enough blood supply, which can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. It most commonly occurs in someone who?s rising from a prone or sitting position to a standing position, in these cases, it is known as Postural Hypotension.
Postural Hypotension is defined as a 20mm Hg-reduction in systolic blood pressure or a 10mm Hg-reduction in diastolic blood pressure within three minutes of standing. Postural hypotension is considered as a failure of the autonomic nervous system which is a part of the nervous system that controls involuntary actions, like your heartbeat to react appropriately to sudden changes. When you stand up, some of the blood gathers in your lower areas, if this wasn?t fixed up it would cause your blood pressure to fall. Normally our bodies compensate by sending messages to tell our hearts to beat faster and to our blood vessels to tighten up. This causes the drop in blood pressure, if this does not happen, or if it happens too slowly, then ?postural hypotension? takes place. The occurrence of low and also high blood pressure normally increases with age, this is partly caused by normal changes of the body in these age groups, also, blood flow in the brain gets less with age often as a result build-up of plaque in the blood vessels. So the commonness of postural hypotension also increases with the age of the person; an estimated 10-20 percent of elderly people have postural hypotension. Postural hypotension may increase the risk of falls particularly in the elderly, which then leads to the potential for bone fractures and other injuries. The symptoms of postural hypotension include:
Dizziness
Lightheadedness
Unsteadiness when walking after rising from a resting position
Dimming or blurring of vision
Physical Weakness
Fatigue
Nausea
Head or neck pain
Shock
Postural hypotension can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, for example: dehydration, lack of food, spending an overly large time standing in the heat or being generally physically run down. It can also be influenced by the genes of the person, aging, medication or dietary factors and triggers, like infection and allergy. Postural hypotension occurs most often in people who are taking drugs to control high blood pressureotherwise known as hypertension or it can also be related to pregnancy, strong emotion, atherosclerosis or diabetes. The elderly are particularly at risk, especially those who have high blood pressure or autonomic nervous dysfunction. Hypotension after meals is estimated to affect up to 1/3 of elderly people and is a common cause of dizziness and falling over after eating. There are several drugs that are commonly associated with treating postural hypotension, these medications can be divided into two major categories:
Drugs used to treat hypertension, such as diuretics,
beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and inhibiting drugs.
Drugs that have hypotension as a side effect, such as nitrates,
drugs used against Parkinson?s disease, antipsychotics (drugs to
help psychotic people or people with psychotic problems),
anti-anxiety agents, and anti-depressants.
Common causes of postural hypotension include:
Central nervous system disorders.
Cardiovascular disorders.
Alcoholism.
Nutritional diseases or deficiencies of multiple numbers of
vitamins.
Just because you have symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness when you rapidly stand up, it does not necessarily mean that you have postural hypotension. A wide range of conditions may cause these symptoms, an accurate diagnosis must only be based on repeated evaluation of blood pressure and pulse rate after you have been lying down for at least five minutes and then after you stand quietly for one minute and then for three minutes, a hypotensive response may be immediate or delayed. For many people postural hypotension can be treated effectively and sometimes eliminated with diet and lifestyle changes, to start off your doctor may advise you to increase your blood pressure by making these simple changes:
Eat a diet with higher salt content.
Drink lots of non-alcoholic fluids, a minimum of eight glasses per
day (preferably water or sports drinks that are high in sodium and
potassium.
Consume extra salt and drink more fluids during hot weather and
while sick with illnesses, such as a cold or the flu.
Get regular exercise to promote blood flow throughout the whole
body.
Avoid heavy lifting.
Avoid taking the drugs for postural hypotensive treatment before
you eat.

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