Is checking for orthostatic hypotension less than 1 minute after standing clinically useful?

Not only can it be useful in identifying those with history of dizziness upon standing but it may also predict a higher risk of falls, fracture, syncope and mortality long term. 1

Clinicians (myself included) have often assumed that drops in blood pressure (BP) and brief feeling of light-headedness soon after active standing are too common and “physiologic” to be of clinical utility,1,2 and have often discouraged checking for orthostatic hyotension (OH) sooner than 1 minute.

However, a 2017 report involving over 11,000 middle-aged participants (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study) may make us rethink our position. This prospective study  found a significant association between participant-reported history of dizziness on standing and OH (defined as a drop in BP systolic ≥20 mmHg or diastolic ≥10 mmHg) but only at 1st measurement (mean of 28.0 seconds after standing), not at subsequent ones over a 2 minute period.

The more intriguing finding was the association between OH documented < 1 minute after standing and increased risk of falls, fracture, syncope, and mortality over a median follow-up period of 23 years. Although there were limitations to the study (eg, excluding many patients likely to have more severe OH), it appears that “premature” checking for OH less than a minute after standing  may not be useless!

Most, including the CDC, agree that rechecking the BP at 3 minutes is still indicated to identify those with sustained or delayed OH. 2,3

Also go to a related P4P post:


  1. Juraschek SP, Daya N, Rawlings AM, et al. Comparison of early versus late orthostatic hypotension assessment times in middle-age adults. JAMA Intern Med 2017;1177:1316-1323.
  2. Singer W, Low PA. Early orthostatic hypotension and orthostatic intolerance-more than an observation or annoyance. JAMA Intern Med 2017;1177:1234-25.
  3.  CDC. Accessed February 7, 2017.
Is checking for orthostatic hypotension less than 1 minute after standing clinically useful?

How should I manage hypertension in my patient with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension?

The frequent concurrence of supine hypertension (SH) and neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH)1 makes treatment of SH in these patients particularly challenging.

To begin with, your threshold for treatment of SH in patients with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH) may need to be higher than that commonly recommended by national guidelines for treatment of essential hypertension to avoid exacerbation of nOH.  Although SH in nOH patients is often arbitrarily defined as a systolic BP ≥150 mmHg or diastolic BP≥90 mmHg, a supine systolic BP of up to 160 mmHg may not warrant treatment, particularly if the symptoms of nOH have improved.2

A 2017 consensus panel recommends treatment of SH in the setting of nOH if systolic BP exceeds the range of 160-180 mmHg or diastolic BP exceeds 90-100 mmHg.  “Permissive” approach to SH in this setting may be reasonable, particularly in those with the largest drops in BP upon standing ( >80 mmHg drop). 2

Regardless, all patients with nOH and SH should be advised to avoid supine posture during the day and elevate the head of the bed as tolerated during the night.

If necessary, significant SH may be treated with short acting agents, including2:

  • Captopril 25 mg qhs
  • Clonidine 0.2 mg with evening meal
  • Hydralazine 10-25 mg qhs
  • Losartan 50 mg qhs
  • Nitroglyerine patch 0.1 mg/h patch qhs (remove patch in am)

Long acting antihypertensive agents and diuretics should be avoided given their inherent risk of significant exacerbation of nOH.



  1. Goldstein DS, Pechnick S, Holmes C, et al. Association between supine hypertension and orthostatic hypotension in autonomic failure. Hypertension 2003; 42:136-142.
  2. Gibbons CH, Schmidt P, Biaggioni I, et al. The recommendations of a concensus panel for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of neurogenic orthostatic hypotension and associated supine hypertension. J Neurol 2017;264:1567-82.
How should I manage hypertension in my patient with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension?

How can I be sure that my patient truly has orthostatic hypotension (OH)?

OH is a sustained reduction of systolic blood pressure (SBP) of ≥ 20 mm Hg or diastolic BP ≥ 10 mm Hg within 3 min of standing or head-up tilt to at least 60° on a tilt table (1); symptoms are not part of the criteria. In patients with supine hypertension, a reduction in SBP of 30 mm Hg has been suggested (1).  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends BP measurements when patient is supine for 5 min, and after standing for 1 and 3 min (2).  Preference for mercury column sphygmomanometer due to its reliability and simplicity, with arm at the level of the heart has been stressed (3). 

OH is more common and more severe during mornings and after meals, and is exacerbated by large meals, meals high in carbohydrate, and alcohol intake (1). In some patients symptomatic OH occurs beyond 3 minutes of standing (1).


  1. Freeman R, Wieling W, Axelrod FB, et al. Consensus statement on the definition of orthostatic hypotension, neurally mediated syncope and the postural tachycardia syndrome. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical 2011;161: 46–48.
  2. , accessed Dec 13, 2015.
  3. Naschitz J, Rosner I. Orthostatic hypotension: framework of the syndrome . Postgrad Med J 2007; 83:568-574.
How can I be sure that my patient truly has orthostatic hypotension (OH)?