DEAR MAYO CLINIC:
My mother is 62 and has had very low blood pressure for two years. She was hospitalized with blood pressure that dropped from 200/78 in bed to 60/40 sitting up. What could be causing this and what can be done to treat her?
Your mother has a condition called orthostatic hypotension. It happens when blood pressure falls significantly as a person stands up. Orthostatic hypotension can cause a variety of symptoms; the most common are feelings of dizziness and faintness.
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in a person’s arteries during the active and resting phases of each heartbeat. When you stand, gravity causes your blood pressure to fall slightly as blood pools in your legs, lowering the amount of blood circulating back to your heart to pump.