Orthostatic Hypotension is a common side effect among patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
What is Orthostatic Hypotension?
This condition is characterized by a severe drop in blood pressure upon standing. Usually this difference is greater than 20/10 mmHg. When a healthy person stands up, some blood will pool in the ankles and legs. In response, the blood vessels will constrict and the heart will pump faster and harder. This happens quickly enough that it usually goes unnoticed by that person. Orthostatic hypotension is the body's slow or absent adjustment to standing up.
In Chronic Fatigue Patients
People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome typically have chronic low blood pressure. This problem is made worse upon standing. It can be particularly problematic in the morning, when standing can cause dizziness. Exercise and heavy meals can also aggravate symptoms. Syncope is an alarming result of Orthostatic Hypotension; it is a loss of consciousness and posture due to decreased blood flow to the brain. Syncope usually occurs in the morning shower, possible because of the effect of hot water.
Causes of Orthostatic Hypotension
The many causes of Orthostatic Hypotension include:
- Low blood volume (Hypovolemia), caused by extreme use of diuretics.
- Potassium Deficiency
- Addison's disease
Drugs Cause Orthostatic Hypotension
Prescription drugs used to treat a variety of conditions cause orthostatic hypotension as a side effect. These drugs include:
- Tricyclic or Tetracyclic antidepressants
- phenothiazine antipsychotic drugs
Depression is another common side effect of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and many of these drugs that cause Orthostatic Hypotension are used to treat depression. You and your health practitioner may want to take this into consideration if you are experiencing depressive symptoms with your Chronic Fatigue.
Treating Orthostatic Hypotension
This condition is not an actual disease; it is simply the body's inability to control blood pressure. There isn't a cure although some prescription drugs may be touted as one. Some research suggests that Orthostatic Hypotension may also be indicative of a vitamin B12 deficiency, and the Chinese herbal extract Huperzine has been shown to counteract low blood pressure.
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