Feeling dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up may be a risk factor for stroke and dementia years down the road, a new study reports.
The condition, known as orthostatic hypotension, is caused by a sharp drop in blood pressure when rising from a supine position. It can be a symptom of various diseases or a side effect of medicine but often has no known cause.
Researchers collected data on 11,709 middle-aged people, average age 54, without a history of coronary heart disease or stroke; 552 of them had orthostatic hypotension. Over the next 25 years, there were 1,068 cases of dementia and 842 of stroke.
The study, published in Neurology, controlled for age, race, cigarette smoking, diabetes and other health and behavioral characteristics and found that people with orthostatic hypotension had a 54 percent higher risk of dementia and more than double the risk of stroke.
Feeling dizzy when you stand up is not a reason for panic, but the senior author, Dr. Rebecca F. Gottesman, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, said that it may be a marker of vascular disease. If it happens regularly, a visit to the doctor is a good idea.
“This will give you and your doctor an opportunity to review your vascular risk factors and make sure they are under control,” she said.