When you check your blood pressure, it is generally recommended that you do this in the sitting position. That is the most accurate and consistent way to check your pressure, but doctors know that sometimes blood pressure drops when you stand. This can be due to variations in how much liquids and salt you have eaten, your activity level, the medications you take, and health issues and medications that can affect blood pressure.
When you stand, baroreceptors, tiny sensors in your blood vessels, assess your body position and adjust blood pressure to maintain adequate blood flow to the brain in all positions and to even out your blood pressure at all time, but a drop in blood pressure upon standing, due to gravity effects, can result in profound symptoms including light headedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, or even fainting.
A new study of over 4000 healthy adults in Ireland showed that blood pressure drops occur much more frequently than we realize, and they increase with age, with nearly 40% of those 80 and older having a significant drop in blood pressure when we stand. Not everyone is aware of this drop, they don’t feel it directly, but it may be having effects on how they feel and function.
So, I recommend that when you check your blood pressure, you do so in the sitting position, and on occasion, after you have stood for 1-2 minutes, to see if your blood pressure is maintaining itself. It should be within 15 points difference on the top (Systolic) and up to 5 points difference on the bottom (Diastolic). If you find it is more than that, it’s worth discussing what you can do to help minimize or deal with these blood pressure variations.
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