MSA Trust

07. Blood Pressure

Blood pressure control can go very awry in MSA. For those people with MSA who have a significantly fluctuating and variable blood pressure you will be familiar with monitoring your blood pressure and taking medication to try to keep some stability.

Most commonly the impact of blood pressure variability is apparent when the person changes position from lying to sitting or sitting to standing and feels like they are about to faint. This is called Postural (PH) or Orthostatic Hypotension (OH). When professionals check your blood pressure this should be in a lying then standing position, for 3 minutes in each position. If this is not possible, it should be in a sitting then standing position. Other common times when blood pressure may drop is when straining to use the toilet, having too warm a shower or bath, after eating or while sitting in the sun for too long.

Practical management and medications are discussed in our factsheet ‘Managing Postural Hypotension’ –

It is important to know that Postural Orthostatic Hypotension is more likely to occur the longer you live with MSA. Even if it is not a persistent feature of your MSA it may occur quite unexpectedly and profoundly. This may cause a sudden collapse so your partner or any carers need to know what to do should this happen.

First aid management would be to check for pulse and breathing – if either are not present then basic resuscitation of chest compressions, mouth to mouth and calling 999 will be required. If breathing and pulse are present – though they may be weak and rapid, then lying you down and elevating your legs may be all that is needed. Once conscious sit up gradually and have a large glass of water.

Key messages:

  • Make sure your blood pressure is checked regularly by professionals, at lying or sitting then standing for 3 minutes in each position
  • Ensure that you drink 1.5 – 2 litres of fluid a day
  • If you are prone to fainting due to low blood pressure, make sure your carer and family members know first aid management.

The MSA Trust is here to support anyone affected by MSA. If you have any questions about the information on this page, please contact us and we will do our best to help you.