Do you get light-headed or dizzy when you stand up? If so, you may be experiencing a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing. Although the condition, known as orthostatic hypotension (OH), itself isn't serious, a recent study says it may be associated with elevated heart failure risk.

In the study, people with OH were 1.54 times more likely to develop heart failure than those without it. For those who didn't have high blood pressure, the risk fell to 1.34.

The link was strongest among 45- to 55-year-olds. The authors speculate that OH preceding heart failure may be a marker of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) before symptoms appear.

In February 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved droxidopa (Northera capsules) to treat neurogenic orthostatic hypotension. This medication carries a boxed warning cautioning patients and health care providers that it may increase the risk for high blood pressure while lying down (called supine hypertension), which can cause stroke. Droxidopa was approved under the FDA's accelerated approval program, and additional research and post-approval clinical trials are required. Side effects include headache, nausea, fatigue, and others.

Source: Hypertension, online 3/19/12; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50; Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 11 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 20 Feb 2014