Orthostatic hypotension (also called postural hypotension) is a condition in which your blood pressure quickly drops when you stand up after sitting or lying down. A type of low blood pressure, this can make you feel dizzy or faint. Symptoms usually improve when you change your medications or move into an upright position more slowly.
Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand from a seated or prone (lying down) position. You may feel dizzy or even faint.
Orthostatic means an upright posture. Hypotension is low blood pressure. This type of low blood pressure is also called postural hypotension.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Blood pressure measures the force of blood against artery walls as your heart pumps blood through your body’s circulatory system. Blood pressure includes two measurements in millimeters of mercury (mmHg):
Your healthcare provider records blood pressure as systolic over diastolic. Healthy blood pressure for most people is below 120/80 millimeters of mercury. A reading below 90/60 millimeters of mercury is considered low blood pressure.
There’s no set number for orthostatic hypotension. Healthcare providers define orthostatic hypotension based on individual blood pressure and how low it goes when you stand up. You have orthostatic hypotension if your blood pressure drops more than 20 millimeters of mercury in systolic pressure or 10 millimeters of mercury in diastolic pressure within three minutes of standing up.
Anyone can get orthostatic hypotension. The condition becomes more common as you age. These factors increase your risk:
Orthostatic hypotension affects roughly 20% of older people, especially those who live in long-term care residences. It’s also common among people who’ve been on bed rest or given birth recently. Also, teens having growth spurts can experience orthostatic hypotension.
Orthostatic hypotension happens more frequently — and with more severe symptoms — in the morning. That’s because blood pressure is normally at its lowest when you wake up in the morning.
Some people don’t experience any orthostatic hypotension symptoms. Others find that hot temperatures (from the weather, a fever or even a hot tub or shower) make symptoms worse.
Other orthostatic hypotension symptoms include:
When you’re sitting or lying down, blood from veins in your legs flows easily to your heart. When you stand up, blood in your legs and feet has a harder time reaching your heart. There’s less blood available for your heart to send to organs and muscles. As a result, your blood pressure temporarily drops.
Orthostatic hypotension causes may include:
Your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure while you’re seated, lying down and standing. They’ll examine you and ask questions about your medical history.
You may also get one or more of these tests:
Orthostatic hypotension treatments vary by what’s causing it.
Treatments may include:
Rarely, people with orthostatic hypotension need medications to increase blood volume and pressure. These medications include:
Possible side effects of drugs for orthostatic hypotension include:
People with orthostatic hypotension may have a higher risk of:
If you’re prone to orthostatic hypotension, these steps can reduce symptoms:
Most people with orthostatic hypotension can manage symptoms by taking preventive steps. For example, you may need to move more slowly into a standing position. The condition rarely causes long-term problems.
There’s no cure for orthostatic hypotension. However, you can improve your symptoms by following your healthcare provider’s recommendations, such as:
You should call your healthcare provider if you often get dizzy when you stand up. Contact them even if this only happens some of the time.
Get immediate treatment if you have:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
Postural tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, causes symptoms similar to orthostatic hypotension. Both cause dizziness or fainting upon standing. Along with a drop in blood pressure, POTS causes a heart rate increase of 30 to 40 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing. With orthostatic hypotension, your heart rate doesn’t increase.
POTS is less common than orthostatic hypotension.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Orthostatic hypotension symptoms can be unsettling. They may even be dangerous if you lose your balance, fall or pass out. Symptoms often improve when you change how you move into a standing position. Tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms. You may need to change your medications to reduce or prevent symptoms. In more severe cases, your provider may prescribe medicine to improve blood flow and pressure.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/07/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.