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Common Cause of Dizziness May Spell Heart Trouble

Blood Pressure That Falls When You Stand May Be a Clue to Coming Heart Failure
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Dropping Blood Pressure and Heart Failure continued...

The risk appeared to be highest for younger adults. Those who were younger than 55 when they were diagnosed with the positional change in blood pressure were nearly twice as likely as those with steady blood pressure to go on to develop heart failure.

Researchers caution that their study can only show associations. It doesn’t prove that falling blood pressures cause heart failure or even explain how the two problems may be linked.

What’s most likely, they think, is that a common disease process, like atherosclerosis, which causes arteries to become hard and stiff, may be behind both.

When arteries harden, they can’t contract as easily to raise blood pressure. Stiff arteries around the heart muscle can weaken its ability to pump.

“Maybe this is an [indicator] of early atherosclerotic disease,” Jones says.

The study is published in the journal Hypertension.

Advice to Patients

Experts who were not involved in the research say the findings were interesting but preliminary.

“I don’t think that everybody who gets lightheaded or dizzy occasionally in their life should be concerned that they are going to get heart failure,” says David Frid, MD, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Rather, he says people who feel dizzy frequently or nearly every time they stand might want to mention the problem to their doctors.

“Maybe if they have a lot of risk factors for [heart] disease, but haven’t shown any true disease, maybe this is a sign that we need to evaluate it further and be more aggressive in managing their risk factors,” Frid says.

Those risk factors might include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease.

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