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Orthostatic Hypotension Could Signal Neurological Disease

Could serve as an early indicator of a degenerative brain disease such as Parkinson's or dementia

THURSDAY, Sept. 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Orthostatic hypotension (OH) may be an early warning sign of a serious neurological disease and an increased risk of premature death, according to research published online Sept. 23 in Neurology.

Christopher Gibbons, M.D., and Roy Freeman, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, studied both OH and delayed orthostatic hypotension (DOH). The researchers reviewed the medical records of 230 people who underwent autonomic testing in 2002 and 2003. Ten-year follow-up data were available for 165 patients.

In the 10-year follow-up group, 48 started out with DOH and 42 had been diagnosed with OH. The 10-year death rate for people who started out with DOH was 29 percent. About 54 percent of participants with DOH progressed to OH within a decade, the investigators found. Of the patients who started out with OH, the 10-year mortality rate was 64 percent. Of those who had OH at the 10-year follow-up, 35 percent had developed a degenerative brain disease such as Parkinson's or dementia.

The results show that people who get dizzy even after long minutes of standing may be experiencing very early signs of a neurological disorder, such as Parkinson's disease, Gibbons told HealthDay. "Doctors need to be aware that a drop in blood pressure associated with dizziness could signify a serious problem, and additional evaluation may be necessary," he said.

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