Orthostatic hypotension and symptoms in the AASK trial

Stephen P. Juraschek, Edgar R. Miller, Lawrence J. Appel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Multiple definitions are used to characterize orthostatic hypotension (OH), but the degree to which these definitions correspond with orthostatic symptoms is unknown. METHODS We analyzed data from African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK), a randomized trial of African Americans with hypertension and kidney disease, to characterize the relationship between OH definitions and self-reported syncope, dizziness, or light-headedness. Orthostatic changes in systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), or heart rate (HR) were determined each visit after standing 2:45 minutes. OH was defined using the consensus definition (a drop in SBP ≥20 mm Hg or DBP ≥10 mm Hg) or an often used clinical substitute based on HR (an increase ≥20 bpm). RESULTS Among 1,094 participants (mean age 54.5 ± 10.7 years, 38.9% female), there were 52,636 visits (mean 48/person). Mean resting SBP, DBP, and HR at baseline were 147.7 ± 22.3 mm Hg, 92.2 ± 13.4 mm Hg, and 71.1 ± 11.7 bpm, respectively. While the OH consensus definition was associated with syncope (odds ratio 2.49; 95% confidence interval: 1.13, 5.51), dizziness (1.89; 1.53, 2.33), and light-headedness (1.84; 1.52, 2.23), the clinical HR definition was only associated with dizziness (1.28; 1.07, 1.52). None of the OH components (SBP, DBP, or HR) reflected a natural threshold in the prevalence of symptoms; definitions using each of the 3 components were highly specific (≥96%) with low sensitivity (1-5%). CONCLUSIONS While the consensus definition was more strongly associated with symptoms, OH definitions did not reflect natural thresholds in symptoms and were insensitive. This implies that the absence of OH using either consensus or clinical definitions does not exclude orthostatic symptoms, which has implications for evaluating clinical events like falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-671
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 7 2018


  • Blood pressure
  • Diastolic blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Light-headedness
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Syncope
  • Systolic blood pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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