Orthostatic hypotension, also known as postural hypotension, occurs when a person's blood pressure falls when suddenly standing up from a lying or sitting position. It is defined as a fall in systolic blood pressure of at least 20 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of at least 10 mm Hg when a person assumes a standing position. It occurs predominantly by delayed constriction of the lower body blood vessels, which is normally required to maintain an adequate blood pressure when changing position to standing. As a result, blood pools in the blood vessels of the legs for a longer period and less is returned to the heart, thereby leading to a reduced cardiac output. Mild orthostatic hypotension is common and can occur briefly in anyone, although it is prevalent in particular among the elderly and those with known low blood pressure. Severe drops in blood pressure can lead to fainting, with a possibility of injury.
There are numerous possible causes for orthostatic hypotension, such as certain medications (e.g. alpha blockers), autonomic neuropathy, decreased blood volume, and age-related blood vessel stiffness.