Feeling Dizzy When Standing up Linked to Dementia and Stroke

dizzy dementia risk

People who feel light-headed when they stand up after having been lying down may be at a higher risk of developing dementia, according to a new US study. 

The study also found a link between dizziness when standing and the risk of someone having a stroke.

Orthostatic hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension (also known as postural hypotension) is when a person’s blood pressure drops when they stand up quickly after having been lying down or sitting. This makes people feel dizzy and can cause them to faint or fall over because the blood flow to the brain is reduced.

Orthostatic hypotension can be caused by heart disease or can be a side effect of blood pressure medications. 

Dementia and stroke

The condition has previously been linked to heart disease. Researchers from the American Academy of Neurology carried out a study to find out whether it could also be linked to brain conditions, in particular dementia.

The researchers studied over 11,000 people, with an average age of 54. At the start of the study the participants were asked to lie down for 20 minutes and then blood pressure measurements were taken when lying down and after they stood up.

For 25 years the people were followed up. During that time, 1,068 of them developed dementia and 842 had a stroke. The analysis found that dementia was 1.5 times more common in people who had orthostatic hypotension at the start of the study compared to those who did not.

People with orthostatic hypotension at the start of the study were twice as likely to have a stroke.

New way to identify people

The researchers took into account other factors that influence health in later life when drawing their conclusions. However, the journal article (published in Neurology) does acknowledge that they were not able to account for everything that could have influenced the results, for example whether people were taking medication. 

Study author Andrea Rawlings said: “Measuring orthostatic hypotension in middle age may be a new way to identify people who need to be carefully monitored for dementia or stroke.
“More studies are needed to clarify what may be causing these links as well as to investigate possible prevention strategies.”


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