Feel dizzy when you stand up? That may be a dementia red flag

Individuals who experience dizziness when they stand up, as well as people who feel lightened upon standing, may be at significantly greater risk of developing dementia compared to those who don't suffer from this problem, according to a new study. The dizziness is the result of an issue called orthostatic hypotension, which refers to a drop in blood pressure that occurs when one goes from a sitting to standing position.

Orthostatic hypotension is a fairly common issue that involves one's systolic blood pressure (the first number in the reading) dropping a substantial amount when someone stands up. This sudden drop in blood pressure can make the person feel lighted or briefly dizzy, something that often corrects itself quickly, though it may be more severe in some people.

According to a new study published by the American Academy of Neurology, this issue may be a red flag revealing a substantially greater risk for developing dementia later in life. The findings are based on a study involving 2,131 people who were dementia-free at the time the research started.

Over 12 years of follow-up, the researchers found that participants who suffered from orthostatic hypotension were around 40-percent more likely to experience dementia in late-life compared to participants who didn't suffer from the blood pressure issue. That's a substantial difference, highlighting the potential usefulness of screening for orthostatic hypotension.

Even after controlling for other risk factors that increase dementia risk, such as smoking and drinking, orthostatic hypotension was still associated with a 37-percent greater risk. Those who had more unstable blood pressure changes were also more likely to develop the brain health issue, according to the study, which was observational in nature.