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Lightheadedness Upon Standing Could Signal Heart Risk
Date:3/19/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- If your blood pressure drops suddenly when you stand up, leaving you feeling lightheaded or woozy, you may be at greater risk for developing heart failure, a new study suggests.

This condition is known as orthostatic hypotension. According to the study, people with orthostatic hypotension were 54 percent more likely to develop heart failure than their counterparts who did not develop low blood pressure upon standing. This risk was reduced to 34 percent when the researchers teased out those who also had high blood pressure.

"Multiple risk factors can increase a person's risk for developing heart failure, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and diabetes," explained study author Dr. Christine DeLong Jones, a preventive medicine resident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Orthostatic hypotension may also increase this risk."

Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump strongly enough for blood to the reach the rest of the body. About 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure, and about 300,000 people die from it each year, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Exactly how orthostatic hypotension could lead to heart failure is not fully understood. "We speculate that orthostatic hypotension and high blood pressure may contribute to the risk of heart failure through a similar pathway, such as through high blood pressure that happens primarily when a person is laying down," she added.

For the new study, researchers looked at more than 12,000 people between the ages of 45 and 64 from four U.S. counties. Close to 11 percent of people who developed heart failure during about 17.5 years of follow-up had orthostatic hypotension at the start of the study, compared with only 4 percent of those who did not go on to develop heart failure. This link was most
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