It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. After standing up you feel woozy or lightheaded for a short moment. It’s not a safe feeling and may have left you wondering, why does blood pressure drop suddenly when standing up?
Blood pressure drops suddenly when standing up because the blood is pooled in the legs and abdomen. This decreases blood pressure because there is less blood circulating back to the heart. Baroreceptors senses this and signals the brain which speeds up the heart, pumps more blood and stabilizes blood pressure.
For most people, this may occur rarely. This blog post will dive a little deeper explaining why. In addition, find out what may cause this and things you can do to help prevent it! If its happening more often, it can signal a more serious problem. Therefore, keep reading.
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Why Blood Pressure Drops Suddenly When Standing Up
It doesn’t feel safe when you stand up from sitting or lying down, and you feel lightheaded. For a quick moment, it feels like you may pass out. Luckily, the body adapts fast and typically you continue standing or walking without missing a beat. Why does this happen?
When standing up, gravity causes blood to pool in your legs and abdomen area. Since there is less blood circulating back to the heart, blood pressure drops and causes the lightheaded feeling. Special cells near your neck and heart arteries, called baroreceptors, senses the low pressure and signals to the brain.
The brain signals to the heart to beat faster and pump more blood, which causes your blood pressure to increase and stabilize. In addition, the baroreceptors narrow the blood vessels which increase the pressure 1.
For most people without certain medical issues, this occurrence doesn’t happen too often. If it occurs more often or it feels like something is not normal 2, always consult with a physician.
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How To Keep Blood Pressure From Dropping When Standing Up
There have been certain times in my life when this has happened and made me question, how do I keep blood pressure from dropping when I stand up? Keep blood pressure from dropping when standing up by following these tips:
- Stay hydrated and drink water throughout the day.
- Don’t drink excess alcohol.
- Avoid heat exposure which can cause sweating and dehydration.
- When rising from a sitting or lying position, stand up slower than faster.
If you’re dehydrated, this may cause the drop in pressure when standing up 3. Dehydration can decrease blood volume and cause these symptoms. This is why you may have noticed the lightheaded feeling more on hot days.
For other people, the drop in blood pressure when standing up may occur more often. If so, it’s possible they have a condition called orthostatic hypotension 4.
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What is Orthostatic Hypotension?
Orthostatic hypotension is low blood pressure which occurs when standing up from a sitting or lying down position. It occurs because something interrupts the body’s natural process of counteracting low blood pressure. Orthostatic hypotension 5 can cause the following symptoms:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness when standing up
- Blurry vision
Orthostatic Hypotension Causes and Risk Factors
The following are orthostatic hypotension causes and risk factors:
- Dehydration: Dehydration can cause low blood volume which can decrease blood pressure.
- Eating Meals: After eating a meal, blood pressure can decrease in some people 6. Typically this happens more in older adults.
- Age: Orthostatic Hypotension is more common in people older than 65 years old. The baroreceptors can slow down with age and the heart may be weaker and unable to speed up as fast when the pressure drops.
- Heart Conditions: Heart valve problems, a low heart rate and heart failure can prevent the body from responding when blood pressure drops.
- Certain diseases: Nervous system disorders and diseases that cause nerve damage can cause low blood pressure.
- Pregnancy: Low blood pressure can occur because a woman’s circulatory system expands.
- Endocrine conditions: Adrenal gland issues, thyroid conditions and low blood sugar can cause orthostatic hypotension.
- Medication: Certain medications can cause low blood pressure more often when standing up 7. These include the following:
- Blood pressure medication.
- Combining blood pressure medication with over-the-counter medication.
- Erectile dysfunction medication.
- Parkinson’s disease medication.
- Muscle relaxers.
- Antidepressants and antipsychotic medications.
How To Detect Orthostatic Hypotension
When visiting a physician about your low blood pressure symptoms, the following steps may occur to detect orthostatic hypotension:
- Your blood pressure will be measured while sitting quietly for five minutes.
- You will be asked to stand up, and blood pressure will be measured within one minute and again after three minutes.
- If systolic pressure decreases more than 20 mmHg or diastolic pressure more than 10 mmHg after standing up, it may indicate you have orthostatic hypotension.
- Blood test.
- Stress test.
- A tilt table test: This test involves laying on a tilt table raised to an upright position. It simulates the motion of standing up and is used to evaluate how your body reacts to the movement.
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Treatments for Orthostatic Hypotension
Possible treatments for orthostatic hypotension may include the following:
- A review of prescribed medication.
- Avoiding alcohol.
- Drinking more water throughout the day.
- Compression stockings. They squeeze the lower legs and helps send blood to the rest of the body instead of pooling in the legs 8.
- Treating another condition which may be causing the low blood pressure.
- Avoiding exposure to heat.
- Standing up more slower from a sitting position.
- When lying down, stand up in three stages. First, elevate the head. Second, sit up. Third, stand up.
- Avoid sitting with crossed legs.
- Eating smaller meals and more sodium.
- Avoid standing for long lengths of time.
- Monitor blood pressure at home and keep a record of your readings.
How much does blood pressure drop when you stand up? The amount blood pressure drops when standing up varies depending on the person. Medical condition, hydration and other factors affect how much blood pressure drops. If systolic pressure decreases more than 20 mmHg or diastolic pressure more than 10 mmHg, it may indicate orthostatic hypotension.
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- Harvard Health: After standing, a fall in blood pressure
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Low Blood Pressure
- Oxford Academic: Acute and chronic effects of hydration status on health
- Cleveland Clinic: Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension): Management and Treatment
- MedlinePlus: Low blood pressure
- Harvard Health: Eating can cause low blood pressure
- The American Heart Association: Low Blood Pressure – When Blood Pressure Is Too Low
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of Application of Elastic Compression Stockings on Blood Pressure, Pulse Rate, and Hypotensive Symptoms in Patients with Intradialytic Hypotension