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Women more susceptible to orthostatic hypotension

New study provides physiological basis that women are more susceptible to orthostatic hypotension than men

November 27, 2001 -- Bethesda, Md. The American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, one of the 14 peer-reviewed journals published by the American Physiological Society (APS), spotlights recent research findings designed to improve and understand human well and health. The November edition includes a study focusing on the association of gender, erect posture, and subnormal arterial blood pressure.

Introduction and Purpose

Individuals who experience symptoms such as lightheadedness and palpitations while they stand are considered to have orthostatic intolerance. According to the Vanderbilt University Autonomic Dysfunction Center, Many patients also note other symptoms with upright posture: visual changes, discomfort in the head or neck, throbbing of the head, poor concentration, tiredness, weakness, and occasionally fainting. It is estimated that up to 500,000 Americans have the disorder, which appears in individuals less than 35 years of age, and affects women more frequently than men.

Whereas most reports indicate that susceptibility for orthostatic intolerance is more common in women than in men, the mechanisms of this gender difference are unclear. The upright posture causes reductions in venous return leading to diminished stroke volume (SV) and cardiac output (Qi). To maintain blood pressure, the reduction in SV must be compensated for by reflex mechanisms that increase total peripheral resistance (TPR). Otherwise, blood pressure falls, leading to cerebral hypoperfusion and syncope. Reports over several decades support the hypothesis that adequate sympathetic constrictor responses during the assumption of upright posture are critical for the maintenance of arterial pressure and cerebral perfusion. Whether orthostatic sympathetic vascular control is different between genders has not
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
30-Nov-2001


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