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Hypotension Treatment Gets Good Reviews

Patients with low blood pressure problem satisfied with new drug

THURSDAY, April 29, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A new Mayo Clinic treatment controls sudden drops in blood pressure that can cause dizziness and fainting when a person stands up after lying down. And it seems to be well-received by patients with a common form of impaired nerve transmission, according to a survey.

This nerve problem, called autonomic failure, is responsible for the sudden drop in blood pressure that can cause dizziness, fainting and falling.

Current treatments for the condition, called orthostatic hypotension, can cause a number of side effects, including increased stress on the heart and increased stroke risk from high blood pressure when the patient is lying down.

The new Mayo treatment includes the drug pyridostigmine, which is used to treat myasthenia gravis, a disorder of the neuromuscular junction that leads to fatigue and muscle weakness. Pyridostigmine does not cause extra stress to the heart when patients are lying down, researchers said.

The Mayo survey of 29 patients with autonomic failure who took the drug found the patients were generally pleased with the treatment and wanted to continue using it. The survey was presented April 28 at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in San Francisco.

"Using pyridostigmine increases nerve transmission mainly when the patient stands up and not while the patient is lying down. Hence it improves standing blood pressure without increasing blood pressure when the patient is lying down. This is a big advantage to this treatment, because for the first time, we can offer control of dizziness and fainting without causing a further problem," study author and neurology specialist Dr. Paola Sandroni said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about orthostatic hypotension.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, April 28, 2004
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