BACKGROUND - Orthostatic hypotension has been commonly described in elderly persons and is associated with an increased risk of falls, syncope, and cerebrovascular events. Nevertheless, the precise burden of this condition in the US is currently unknown.
METHODS - We analyzed discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample to identify orthostatic hypotension-related hospitalizations and associated comorbidities after excluding acute causes of this condition. National hospitalization rates were estimated using US census population estimates, and the medical conditions most frequently associated with orthostatic hypotension were assessed.
RESULTS - In 2004, there were an estimated 80,095 orthostatic hypotension-related hospitalizations, yielding an overall rate of 36 (95% confidence interval, 34 to 38) hospitalizations per 100,000 US adults. Orthostatic hypotension was the primary diagnosis in 35% of these hospitalizations. The number of orthostatic hypotension-related hospitalizations increased steadily with age, and patients aged 75 years or older had the highest annual hospitalization rate, 233 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval, 217 to 249). The median length of hospital stay was 3 days (IQR 2-6) and the overall in-hospital mortality was 0.9%. Caucasian males were most likely to be hospitalized with orthostatic hypotension. Syncope was the most common comorbid condition reported among orthostatic hypotension patients.
CONCLUSIONS - Orthostatic hypotension is a relatively common condition among hospitalized US elderly patients. In light of the progressive aging of the US population, the contribution of orthostatic hypotension to morbidity and mortality is likely to increase, and deserves further scrutiny.