July 12, 2022/Heart Health

Can High Blood Pressure Make You Feel Dizzy?

Dizziness typically falls into two categories

woman suffering from dizziness

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is called “the silent killer” for a reason: It can have far-reaching consequences for your health, but for the most part, it’s not accompanied by any warning signs whatsoever.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Dizziness is sometimes thought to be a symptom of high blood pressure — but it’s not usually the case, says preventive cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD. He explains how dizziness may be related to your blood pressure and what’s probably happening instead.

Why does this happen?

High blood pressure isn’t actually associated with feelings of dizziness, Dr. Laffin says. But to try to figure out what’s at the root of your issue, it’s important to first figure out what kind of dizziness you’re having. Doctors usually put this symptom into two different categories.

Vertigo probably isn’t a blood pressure issue

One kind of dizziness is the kind that feels like the room is spinning. This feeling is typically associated with vertigo, which can be caused by a variety of conditions, including ear infections, head injuries and more — but not high blood pressure.

“Vertigo symptoms are very unlikely to be caused by any type of blood pressure issues,” Dr. Laffin says. “For most people, it’s an inner ear issue.”

If you’re experiencing frequent vertigo, it’s important to talk to your doctor to try to identify and treat the cause.

Changes in blood pressure can cause lightheadedness

The other kind of dizziness is lightheadedness — when you feel woozy or unsteady on your feet, like you might faint.

“That is oftentimes not caused by high blood pressure but by changes in blood pressure,” Dr. Laffin explains. “Going from a high blood pressure to a low blood pressure can definitely result in lightheadedness, feeling unsteady and sometimes even frank syncope, or passing out.”

This kind of sudden change in blood pressure can happen when you switch positions, like if you stand up quickly after you’ve been lying down for a while or kneeling in your garden. Typically, our bodies can adjust quickly to these changes in position, sending enough blood flow to our brains to accommodate changes in position.

Sometimes, though, it takes your body a moment to adjust, which temporarily causes less blood flow to your brain. That’s when you feel lightheaded.

It could be low blood pressure

Both vertigo and lightheadedness can actually be signs of low blood pressure, not high blood pressure. Low blood pressure is more common in older adults and people with health conditions or those who take certain medications.

How to deal with feeling dizzy

It’s normal to have an occasional dizzy spell when you stand up. “It doesn’t mean that there’s some major problem,” Dr. Laffin notes, “and the biggest way around it is to make sure that you’re hydrated.”

To try to prevent dizziness when you change positions:

  • Drink your water. Your blood pressure can dip when there’s not enough fluid in your body, so staying hydrated is key.
  • Change positions slowly. To prevent dizziness, pace yourself when you rise from a sitting, kneeling or sleeping position.
  • Don’t stay in one position for too long. When you’re in one position for a long time, whether it’s sitting or standing, blood begins to settle in your legs, which can contribute to dizziness when you do finally switch positions. To prevent this, take breaks and switch positions.
  • Check your meds. Your medications could be impacting your blood pressure. Ask your doctor whether that could be the case for you.

Advertisement

But if you find yourself frequently dizzy, or if you pass out when changing positions (or any time, really), it’s time to check in with a medical professional to see what might be at play.

“If this happens multiple times a day or to an extreme extent, that’s a sign to talk with your doctor,” Dr. Laffin advises.

To hear more from Dr. Laffin on this topic, listen to the Health Essentials Podcast episode, “Combating High Blood Pressure.” New episodes of the Health Essentials Podcast publish every Wednesday.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person reclining on couch wearing compression socks
April 3, 2024/Heart Health
How To Raise Your Blood Pressure Immediately at Home

First things first — slowly sit or lie down

A wooden spoonful of salt on a granite tabletop with salt scattered around
February 28, 2024/Nutrition
Why Too Much Salt Can Be Bad for You

Excess salt and sodium consumption is a worldwide health concern

beet and carrot juice in a glass surrounded by beets and carrots
February 1, 2024/Heart Health
Can Certain Drinks Lower Your Blood Pressure?

While not magic elixirs, some drinks like beet juice and skim milk may help keep numbers down

Female drinking large glass of water at home.
January 29, 2024/Heart Health
What To Do if Your Blood Pressure Is Too Low

Low blood pressure got you feeling down? Staying hydrated and wearing compression socks can help

Closeup of hands holding a glass of water and an aspirin
January 16, 2024/Heart Health
Can Aspirin Lower Blood Pressure?

Don’t believe the rumors about aspirin being a magic way to lower BP

Person using electronic blood pressure monitor at home.
November 6, 2023/Heart Health
Buying a Home Blood Pressure Monitor? 6 Things You Need To Know

Steer clear of bells and whistles — simple, affordable monitors are all you really need

doctor showing heart rate and blood pressure watch monitor
October 31, 2023/Heart Health
The Relationship Between Your Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Both are related to your cardiovascular system, and both can impact the other

Two people exercising in part with heart rate monitor watch in foreground.
March 16, 2023/Heart Health
Low Heart Rate: What It Is and When to Worry

Bradycardia, or a low heart rate, is more likely as you age — and could be a sign of health issues

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad