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

pronounced among people aged 45 to 55, according to the findings, published March 19 in Hypertension.

To test for orthostatic hypotension, your doctor will measure your blood pressure while lying down and shortly after standing up. Orthostatic hypotension is defined as a drop of 20 mm Hg or more in systolic (the top number) blood pressure or a decrease of 10 mm Hg or more in diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure upon standing.

Some people with orthostatic hypotension might not have symptoms and may not require treatment. Others may experience dizziness, and others may even pass out, Jones said. "If one passes out or has severe dizziness, they should see a provider urgently."

People with orthostatic hypotension who also have high blood pressure should take steps to control blood pressure, and make sure their heart is healthy, she said.

The study authors speculated that orthostatic hypotension might be an indicator of early atherosclerosis -- a buildup of plaque in the arteries -- brought on by high blood pressure.

However, the study does not show that orthostatic hypotension causes heart failure, merely an association between the two.

Dr. Robert Myerburg, a professor of cardiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said it is way too premature to say that orthostatic hypotension is a risk factor for heart failure based on this study.

"Orthostatic hypotension can cause unpleasant symptoms and if they lead to loss of consciousness or near loss of consciousness, it can lead to accidents, but this is not something that will lead to cardiac arrest," he said. His advice is to drink plenty of fluid if you have low blood pressure upon standing. "If it doesn't bother you or cause any significant symptoms, you don't have to treat it," he said.

Dr. Stephen Green, chief of cardiology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., agreed. "If you get lightheaded, see your doctor and they shoul
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