Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

Some simple steps help manage or prevent orthostatic hypotension. Your doctor may give you several suggestions, including:

  • Increase salt in your diet. This must be done carefully and only after discussing it with your doctor. Too much salt can cause your blood pressure to increase beyond a healthy level, creating new health risks.
  • Eat small meals. If your blood pressure drops after eating, your doctor may recommend small, low-carbohydrate meals.
  • Ask about vitamin supplements. Both anemia and vitamin B-12 deficiency can affect blood flow and worsen symptoms of orthostatic hypotension, so iron and vitamin supplements might be helpful for you if you're deficient.
  • Get plenty of fluids. Keeping hydrated helps prevent symptoms of low blood pressure. Drink plenty of water before long periods of standing, or any activities that tend to trigger your symptoms.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can worsen orthostatic hypotension, so limit or avoid it completely.
  • Exercise. Regular cardiovascular and strengthening exercises may help reduce symptoms of orthostatic hypotension. Avoid exercising in very hot, humid weather. Stretch and flex your calf muscles before sitting up. If symptoms strike, squeeze your thigh, abdominal and buttock muscles. Squat, march in place or rise onto your tiptoes.
  • Avoid bending at the waist. If you drop something on the floor, squat with your knees to recover it.
  • Wear waist-high compression stockings. These may help improve blood flow and reduce the symptoms of orthostatic hypotension. Wear them during the day, but take them off for bed and anytime you lie down.
  • Get up slowly. You may be able to reduce the dizziness and lightheadedness that occur with orthostatic hypotension by moving slowly from a lying to standing position. Also, when getting out of bed, sit on the edge of your bed for a minute before standing.
  • Elevate your head in bed. Sleeping with the head of your bed slightly elevated can help fight the effects of gravity.
  • Move your legs while standing. If you begin to get symptoms while standing, cross your thighs in a scissors fashion and squeeze, or put one foot on a ledge or chair and lean as far forward as possible. These maneuvers encourage blood to flow from your legs to your heart.
July 11, 2017
References
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  2. What is hypotension? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hyp/. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  3. Kaufmann H, et al. Mechanisms, causes, and evaluation of orthostatic hypotension. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  4. Low blood pressure. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Low-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301785_Article.jsp. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  5. Shen WK, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/HRS Guideline for the evaluation and management of patients with syncope. Heart Rhythm. In press. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  6. What is an electrocardiogram? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ekg/. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  7. What is echocardiography? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/echo/. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  8. Kaufmann H, et al. Treatment of orthostatic and postprandial hypotension. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  9. Gibbons CH, et al. The recommendations of a consensus panel for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of neurogenic orthostatic hypotension and associated supine hypotension. Journal of Neurology. 2017 Jan 3.
  10. Drug approval package: Northera (droxidopa) capsules approval letter. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2014/203202Orig1s000TOC.cfm. Accessed March 21, 2017.
  11. AskMayoExpert. Orthostatic hypotension initial evaluation. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; August 2016.
  12. AskMayoExpert. Orthostatic hypotension initial treatment. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; August 2016.
  13. Low PA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 3, 2017.