Sudden Blood Pressure Drop Risky

Orthostatic hypotension appears to increase risk of developing heart failure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If moving from a lying position to standing causes you to experience a sudden blood pressure drop, a condition known as orthostatic hypotension, you may be at a higher risk of developing heart failure.

Among the study participants, those with orthostatic hypotension between the ages of 45 and 55 years old were found to be at highest risk of developing heart failure.

"Control your blood pressure to lower your heart failure risk."

Dr. Christine DeLong Jones, study lead author and preventive medicine resident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted that hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease already are known to increase an individual's risk of developing heart failure. She said that orthostatic blood pressure measurement can easily supplement that knowledge since it does not require additional equipment, only a standard blood pressure cuff.

Investigators examined the link between orthostatic blood pressure and the development of heart failure in 12,363 Caucasian and black adult patients without heart failure through the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, making it the first to include African-Americans. Participants had their blood pressure measurements taken while lying down and then again when they stood. They were followed for an average of 17.5 years.

The patients were considered to have orthostatic blood pressure if the systolic, or top number in a blood pressure reading, dropped by 20 points or more or the diastolic, or bottom number, declined by at least 10 points upon standing. Heart failure in the patients was identified through hospital admissions and diagnoses on death certificates.

They found that about 11 percent of participants who developed heart failure had orthostatic hypotension at the beginning of the study versus only 4 percent who did not develop heart failure. Patients with orthostatic blood pressure were found to have a risk that was 1.54 times higher of developing heart failure.

When participants with high blood pressure were excluded, the risk was reduced to 1.34 times, in part because hypertension may be partly responsible for the heart failure link.

Similar previous studies had mainly focused on populations that included only white patients and the elderly.

The finding, funded by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, was recently published in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 20, 2012
Last Updated:
March 20, 2012