Almost everyone has had a dizzy spell after standing up too quickly, but some people suffer from them regularly. Now, a new study suggests two do-it-yourself ways to help.
The study focused on what’s called initial orthostatic hypotension (IOH), where a person’s blood pressure drops sharply within 30 seconds of standing up from sitting or lying down.
The problem is short-lived, and the body rights itself within about a minute. But the symptoms — including dizziness, blurred vision and nausea — can be troubling and sometimes lead to falls.
What is orthostatic hypotension?
The general term orthostatic hypotension (OH) refers to a decline in blood pressure after a person stands up. But there are different forms of OH, including IOH, Raj explains.
In IOH, the blood pressure drop is particularly dramatic — at least 40 mm Hg in systolic pressure — and it strikes within 15 to 30 seconds of standing up. It also resolves quickly thereafter.
“Classical” OH has a somewhat slower onset, within about 3 minutes, and the blood pressure reduction is more sustained. It’s common among elderly people, especially when they have health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
With IOH, Raj says, “we see it a lot in younger people, and fundamentally healthy people.”
Whenever a person stands from sitting, there is some shift of blood flow toward the belly and legs. It’s thought that IOH involves a rapid and excessive dilation of blood vessels in the lower body, which results in a temporary reduction of blood flow to the brain. Soon thereafter, symptoms like light-headedness and seeing spots surface.
Limiting blood pressure drops
In the new study, researchers tested two simple maneuvers for thwarting those symptoms: activating the lower-body muscles right before or right after standing.
It turned out that both approaches helped, at least for the 22 young women in the study. Doing either one limited the women’s