Ever rise from a chair after sitting for a while and feel that the room is blacking out?

You must pause in your tracks, head lowered, until the feeling passes.

And the feeling is that of faintness, of being about to pass out, or as sometimes it’s described, dizziness, being lightheaded or almost blacking out.

A study has found a link between this phenomenon in middle age and the development of dementia 20 years later.

This is scary news for those of middle age who, upon standing from being seated for a while, begin to feel as though they’re going to pass out.

The condition is called orthostatic hypotension.

The research comes from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Study

• The study began in 1987 involving 11,503 people between 45 and 64.

• The participants did not have a history of heart disease or stroke.

• They lied down for 20 minutes, then upon standing their blood pressure was recorded.

• 703 of the subjects tested positive for orthostatic hypotension.

• The subjects were followed for 20+ years.

• Those who had shown orthostatic hypotension at the initial visit were 40 percent more likely to develop dementia than subjects who had not.

Cause and Effect

Dr. Rawlings’ report says that cause and effect has not been established.

However, two explanations exist for the association.

One, the condition indicates the presence of another disease process that ultimately leads to dementia.

Two, the orthostatic hypotension itself leads to dementia – because the brief episodes of deprived blood flow to the brain have a cumulative effect.

There may be a third — but yet unknown — explanation for the association.

Study Limitations

• It’s not known if the subjects who tested positive went on to have continued bouts with orthostatic hypotension in the ensuing years.
• Other factors were not adjusted for such as exercise habits and well-known risk factors for dementia.

What Should You Do?

What you should NOT do is panic over thsi study if you’ve had episodes of orthostatic hypotension after rising from a prolongeed seated position.

If you’ve always suffered from feeling like a blackout was coming on, faintness or dizziness upon standing from a seated position, then take diligent measures to rise slowly from seated positions.

If this means taking 30 seconds to avoid the lightheaded feeling before you’re fully standing, then so be it.

Don’t just rush to a standing position, which increases the odds of getting lightheaded or feeling faint.

If you’re a younger adult, it’s not too early to make a point of taking your time rising to a standing position from your computer chair, dinner table seat, TV seat or bed to avoid the drained-blood feeling in your head that causes the lightheaded feeling.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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Top image: Brain Freepik.com/kjpargeter
Source: jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2017/rapid-blood-pressure-drops-in-middle-age-linked-to-dementia-in-old-age.html