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Sudden steep drop in blood pressure on standing from lying down may predict atrial fibrillation
Date:11/20/2013

e or rhythm of the heart. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm.

Atrial fibrillation affects approximately 3 million people in North America, and the prevalence is projected to double by 2050. It occurs when the upper chambers of the heart, the atria, beat chaotically and usually rapidly out of coordination with the two lower chambers of the organ. During atrial fibrillation episodes, blood may pool inappropriately in the upper chamber, forming clots that can travel to the brain and hindering the healthy function of the heart, Agarwal says.

Blood thinner treatment has been shown to dramatically reduce stroke risk in these patients by more than half, but many don't take the medication because they are unaware they have the condition. Symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness.

Agarwal says doctors don't routinely test for orthostatic hypotension. It is done by having the patient lie down for two to five minutes while having blood pressure tested several times, then standing up and having the same readings taken again after two minutes. Sometimes a patient with orthostatic hypotension will feel lightheaded and dizzy upon standing, but not always.

"We need more research into whether there is any sort of causal relationship between orthostatic hypotension and atrial fibrillation, or whether it is simply a marker of dysfunction of autonomic nervous system or generally poor health," he says.


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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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