Getting up from a sitting position should not make anyone feel light-headed or dizzy. In fact, new research says this phenomenon could mean something very serious.

This phenomenon of feeling faint or dizzy when standing up is actually caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure, which is called orthostatic hypotension. Researchers have determined that middle-aged people who experience this are more likely to develop dementia or stroke.

Study Links Orthostatic Hypotension To Dementia, Stroke

"Orthostatic hypotension has been linked to heart disease, fainting and falls, so we wanted to conduct a large study to determine if this form of low blood pressure was also linked to problems in the brain, specifically dementia," study author Andreea Rawlings, Ph.D., MS, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explains in a press release from the American Academy of Neurology.

The study published in the journal Neurology followed 11,709 people with an average age of 54 for around 25 years. None of the participants had a history of heart disease or stroke prior to the study, but they were all tested for orthostatic hypotension and 4.7 percent exhibited the condition at the beginning.

Rawlings and the rest of the team found that those who experienced orthostatic hypotension at the beginning of the study are 54 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. Only 9 percent of those without orthostatic hypotension developed dementia, but 12.5 percent of those who have eventually turned out to have dementia.

Furthermore, they are also more likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke with 15.2 percent of those with orthostatic hypotension going on to get a stroke. Only 6.8 percent of those who did not have orthostatic hypotension got the condition. However, no association was found with bleeding strokes.

The Study Significance

The findings of the study can pave the way for identifying those who are particularly vulnerable to conditions such as dementia or stroke. Knowing that the risk is greater can help individuals prepare and get treated earlier, which is invaluable.

"Measuring orthostatic hypotension in middle-age may be a new way to identify people who need to be carefully monitored for dementia or stroke," Rawlings points out. 

He added that further studies are necessary to determine the cause of the connection between the diseases and orthostatic hypotension. Investigating potential treatments could also be in the future.

However, it is also important to note that the participants' orthostatic hypotension was also measured once over the course of the study. This limits the study as it doesn't represent blood pressure changes through the years.