This handout explains what orthostatic hypotension is and how to check for it.
What is orthostatic hypotension?
A big change in your blood pressure when
you go from laying down to standing up.
You may be at higher risk of falling if you
have this condition.
Why check orthostatic blood pressures?
This is one way to help find out if you are
Am I at risk?
The following are things that may cause you
to have a greater chance of having
ξ Being in bed for a long time
ξ Not drinking enough fluids
ξ Some heart conditions
Keeping You Safe in the Hospital
Our goal is to keep you safe during your
hospital stay. If you have orthostatic
hypotension in the hospital, your team may
suggest the following:
ξ Ask for help before you get up
ξ Get up slowly
ξ Drink fluids. Be sure to ask your
team if you have limits on how
much you can drink.
ξ Raise the head of your bed 10-20
ξ Learn about your health conditions
ξ Ask your health care team about
walking in your room and the halls
to stay active
ξ Do not take hot showers early in the
ξ Think about using a chair in the
ξ Wear support stockings to help with
swelling in your legs
ξ Your team may wish to check your
blood pressure often
It is important that you are safe when you
go home. Be sure to ask for help when
needed. Use equipment to help you move
around and in the shower if needed. Ask
your health care team about medicines that
may put you at risk for changes in your
I have been told to check orthostatic vital
signs at home. Now what?
1. Start by lying flat for at least 5
2. After 5 minutes, use your automatic
blood pressure cuff to take your
blood pressure while still lying flat.
3. When your blood pressure appears
on the machine, write down this
number. Slowly move to a standing
4. If you begin to feel any of the
following symptoms, sit down right
away and call your provider:
c. Blurred vision
g. Heart beating fast
5. Once standing for 1 minute, take
your blood pressure again and write
down this number.
6. Keep standing. After 3 minutes take
your blood pressure once more.
Write down this number.
How often should I check my blood
Once a day. Your nurse can help you find a
time that works best for you.
Tips for Using Your Automatic Blood
ξ Take your blood pressure at a time
that you feel relaxed and
ξ Do not talk, watch TV, or look at
your phone/tablet during the blood
ξ Roll up your sleeve or take off your
shirt to expose your upper arm.
ξ Wrap the blood pressure cuff around
your upper arm so that the lower
edge of the cuff is about 1 inch
above the bend of your elbow.
ξ Press the on/off button on the
automatic monitor and wait until the
ready symbol or message appears
next to zero in the display window.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#8019
Please call ________________________if you experience any of the following.
Systolic (top number) change: Greater than 20
Diastolic (bottom number) change: Greater than 10
Heart Rate change: Greater than 15 beats per minute
Date Laying Standing 1
Date Laying Standing 1