Assessing Etiology of Orthostatic Hypotension in Older Adults

Evidence-Based Care Series: Assessing Etiology of Orthostatic Hypotension in Older Adults

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What is Orthostatic Hypotension?

A drop in systolic blood pressure (BP) of at least 20 mmHg or a drop in diastolic BP of at least 10 mmHg within 3 minutes of standing from a supine or sitting position (Feldstein & Weder, 2012).

What are the Implications?

Orthostatic hypotension can increase the risk of falls, diminished function & decreased quality of life (Feldstein & Weder, 2012; Irvin & White, 2004; Lee, 2013; Ricci, De Caterina & Fedorowski, 2015; Lipsitz, 2017).

  • The risk for orthostatic hypotension increases during hospitalization because of possible deconditioning and new medications.
  • Continued close monitoring is needed in sub-acute care, assisted living, outpatient, or home settings.


Orthostatic blood pressure measurements should be included in the assessment of all older adults (Lipsitz, 2017):

  1. Measure BP and HR in a lying position
  2. Measure BP and HR in a sitting position
  3. Measure BP and HR in a standing position

*Note, if the patient complains of dizziness or lightheadedness, refrain from asking them to stand.

Best Practice Approach to Assessing Etiology

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You can learn more about Orthostatic Hypotension here:

Last Updated:
October 17, 2022

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