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Most physicians in the English-speaking world consider hypotension - low blood pressure - to be a symptom of some other disorder. In other parts of the world, however, hypotension is itself considered to be a disorder that can cause various symptoms, including depression, lethargy and fatigue. This different attitude is probably the result of different methods of medical training. There are different kinds of hypotension and the following is one way of classifying them:
Neurally mediated hypotension is also known by the following names: the fainting reflex, neurocardiogenic syncope, vasodepressor syncope, the vaso-vagal reflex, and autonomic dysfunction. Neurally mediated hypotension occurs when there is an abnormal reflex interaction between the heart and the brain, both of which usually are structurally normal.
Neurally mediated hypotension occurs in susceptible individuals in the following settings:
Diagnostic and Test Procedures
Symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness upon standing do not necessarily mean that you have postural hypotension. A wide range of underlying conditions may cause these symptoms. An accurate diagnosis must be based on repeated evaluation of blood pressure and pulse rate after you have been lying down for at least five minutes and then after you stand quietly for one minute and then for three minutes. A hypotensive response may be immediate or delayed. Prolonged standing or a tilt test may be needed to detect a delayed hypotensive response.
If you have an underlying medical problem that causes postural hypotension, seek treatment for the underlying condition. There is a spontaneous improvement in many individuals, although treatment of the cause helps the return to normal.
For many people, chronic physiologic postural hypotension can be effectively treated with diet and lifestyle changes.
Have your doctor evaluate your prescription and over-the-counter medications to identify any that may be causing your symptoms.
Be careful when rising from a prone or sitting position. To improve circulation, stretch your feet back and forth before standing up. Then proceed slowly. When getting out of bed, sit upright on the edge of the bed for a few moments before standing.
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Acute: An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.
Allergy: Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.
Anesthesia: Loss of sensation caused by neurological dysfunction or a pharmacological depression of nerve function.
Atherosclerosis: Common form of arteriosclerosis associated with the formation of atheromas which are deposits of yellow plaques containing cholesterol, lipids, and lipophages within the intima and inner media of arteries. This results in a narrowing of the arteries, which reduces the blood and oxygen flow to the heart and brain as well as to other parts of the body and can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or loss of function or gangrene of other tissues.
Calcium: The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Cardiovascular: Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is a disorder of unknown cause that lasts for prolonged periods and causes extreme and debilitating exhaustion as well as a wide range of other symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache and joint pain, often resembling flu and other viral infections. Also known as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus (CEBV), Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), "Yuppy Flu" and other names, it is frequently misdiagnosed as hypochondria, psychosomatic illness, or depression, because routine medical tests do not detect any problems.
Diabetes Mellitus: A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.
Diuretic: An agent increasing urine flow, causing the kidneys to excrete more than the usual amount of sodium, potassium and water.
Fibromyalgia: (FMS): Originally named fibrositis, it is a mysteriously debilitating syndrome that attacks women more often than men. It is not physically damaging to the body in any way, but is characterized by the constant presence of widespread pain that often moves about the body. Fibromyalgia can be so severe that it is often incapacitating.
Hypertension: High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.
Hypotension: Low blood pressure.
Monoamine Oxidase: (MAO) Enzyme catalyzing the removal of an amine group from a variety of substrates, including norepinephrine and dopamine.
Nervous System: A system in the body that is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, ganglia and parts of the receptor organs that receive and interpret stimuli and transmit impulses to effector organs.
Neuropathy: A group of symptoms caused by abnormalities in motor or sensory nerves. Symptoms include tingling or numbness in hands or feet followed by gradual, progressive muscular weakness.
Over-The-Counter: A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.
Postprandial: Following a meal.