The risk factors for orthostatic hypotension include:

  • Age. Orthostatic hypotension is common in those age 65 and older. As your body ages, the ability of special cells (baroreceptors) near your heart and neck arteries to regulate blood pressure can be slowed. Also, when you age, it may be harder for your heart to beat faster and compensate for drops in blood pressure.
  • Medications. People who take certain medications, such as high blood pressure medication, have a greater risk of orthostatic hypotension. These include water pills (diuretics) and other drugs that treat high blood pressure; heart medications, such as beta blockers; drugs for Parkinson's disease or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); tricyclic antidepressants; sildenafil (Revatio, Viagra), especially when used at the same time as nitroglycerin; narcotics; and alcohol. Using drugs that treat high blood pressure in combination with other prescription and over-the-counter medications may cause low blood pressure.
  • Certain diseases. Parkinson's disease and some heart conditions put you at a greater risk of developing low blood pressure.
  • Heat exposure. Being in a hot environment can cause you to sweat and, possibly, cause dehydration, which can lower your blood pressure and trigger orthostatic hypotension.
  • Bed rest. If you have to stay in bed a long time because of an illness, you may become weak. When you try to stand up, you may experience orthostatic hypotension. Once you're feeling better and regain your muscle strength, the orthostatic hypotension will likely improve.
  • Pregnancy. Because a woman's circulatory system expands rapidly during pregnancy, blood pressure is likely to drop. This could cause blood pressure to drop enough to cause orthostatic hypotension when standing up quickly. In addition, as the uterus expands, it can press on the large veins in the pelvis, reducing blood flow.
Jul. 20, 2011