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Orthostatic hypotension in older adults. The Cardiovascular Health Study. CHS Collaborative Research Group.

Originally published 1992;19:508–519

    The purpose of the present study was to assess the prevalence of orthostatic hypotension and its associations with demographic characteristics, cardiovascular risk factors and symptomatology, prevalent cardiovascular disease, and selected clinical measurements in the Cardiovascular Health Study, a multicenter, observational, longitudinal study enrolling 5,201 men and women aged 65 years and older at initial examination. Blood pressure measurements were obtained with the subjects in a supine position and after they had been standing for 3 minutes. The prevalence of asymptomatic orthostatic hypotension, defined as 20 mm Hg or greater decrease in systolic or 10 mm Hg or greater decrease in diastolic blood pressure, was 16.2%. This prevalence increased to 18.2% when the definition also included those in whom the procedure was aborted due to dizziness upon standing. The prevalence was higher at successive ages. Orthostatic hypotension was associated significantly with difficulty walking (odds ratio, 1.23; 95% confidence interval, 1.02, 1.46), frequent falls (odds ratio, 1.52; confidence interval, 1.04, 2.22), and histories of myocardial infarction (odds ratio, 1.24; confidence interval, 1.02, 1.50) and transient ischemic attacks (odds ratio, 1.68; confidence interval, 1.12, 2.51). History of stroke, angina pectoris, and diabetes mellitus were not associated significantly with orthostatic hypotension. In addition, orthostatic hypotension was associated with isolated systolic hypertension (odds ratio, 1.35; confidence interval, 1.09, 1.68), major electrocardiographic abnormalities (odds ratio, 1.21; confidence interval, 1.03, 1.42), and the presence of carotid artery stenosis based on ultrasonography (odds ratio, 1.67; confidence interval, 1.23, 2.26). Orthostatic hypotension was negatively associated with weight. We conclude that orthostatic hypotension is common in the elderly and increases with advancing age. It is associated with cardiovascular disease, particularly those manifestations measured objectively, such as carotid stenosis. It is associated also with general neurological symptoms, but this link may not be causal. Differences in prevalence of and associations with orthostatic hypotension in the present study compared with others are largely attributed to differences in population characteristics and methodology.


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