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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

How do you measure Orthostatic Hypotension?



Orthostatic hypotension (OH) refers to a drop in blood pressure that occurs when a person stands up from a sitting or lying position. This can be a reason someone is experiencing dizziness when getting out of bed or when standing up.  

OH is typically defined as a decrease in systolic blood pressure of at least 20 mmHg or a decrease in diastolic blood pressure of at least 10 mmHg within 3 minutes of standing. (Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure your blood is pushing against your artery walls when your heart beats while diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure when the heart is resting between beats.)


At Engage, we use the supine to stand test to assess OH as a cause of dizziness.  We will walk you through the steps of this test and what it means.


Start:

  • We have the patient rest quietly in a lying position for at least 5 minutes before the test — making sure they are not dehydrated or experiencing other conditions that could affect blood pressure.

Initial Blood Pressure Measurement:

  • We measure the person's blood pressure while they are lying down — recording both systolic and diastolic values.

Stand Up:

  • The person moves from lying down to a standing position. 

Timed Measurements:

  • Blood pressure is measured again while the person is standing. Typically, we wait 1 minute after standing, but sometimes healthcare providers wait for 3 minutes after standing for a more accurate assessment.

Calculate Changes:

  • Calculate the change in blood pressure by subtracting the standing blood pressure readings from the initial seated or lying readings.

  • Orthostatic hypotension is often diagnosed if there's a decrease in systolic blood pressure of at least 20 mmHg or a decrease in diastolic blood pressure of at least 10 mmHg within 3 minutes of standing.

Interpretation:

  • If the criteria for orthostatic hypotension are met, we consider the possibility of this condition. Note that some variation in blood pressure upon standing is normal, but significant drops can indicate orthostatic hypotension.  We will review the results and discuss collaboration with your healthcare team to best address this.


It's important to work with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause of your orthostatic hypotension and develop an individualized treatment plan.  


Are you experiencing symptoms of dizziness that limit your daily activities and safety? Call Engage Therapy and Wellness at 315-810-2423 to learn more about how our therapy team can help!



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