Orthostatic Vitals: Measuring Your Body’s Response to Changes in Posture

The orthostatic vitals test is used to evaluate the body’s response to a change in position. It examines changes in your heart rate and blood pressure when you are resting, sitting, and standing.

Your physician may use the orthostatic vitals test to get an idea of how your body responds to ortho- static (upright) stress. If you are asked to participate in orthostatic vitals testing, it is most helpful to have the test conducted during the morning hours. It is also helpful to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing because anything that is too tight may cause the results to be inaccurate.

Your physician may also ask you to have a tilt table test, which is a more sophisticated way of measuring orthostatic stress.

If you are diagnosed with dysautonomia, and you have experienced abnormal orthostatic vitals, your doctor may ask you to periodically check your heart rate and/or blood pressure at home. Additionally, when you experience a change in symptoms you may want to check your heart rate and/or blood pressure and share that information with your doctors.

At-home blood pressure cuffs are made either for the arm or the wrist. With a push of a button, they record your blood pressure, and some models also show your heart rate. Alternatively, pulse oximeters (devices which attach to the end of your finger to monitor both heart rate and the % amount of oxygen that is being distributed through your blood to peripheral (outer) regions of the body) can be purchased at most pharmacies.

If you use at-home instruments such as these, it is important to use them with the understanding of the following cautions:

  • At-home monitors can provide false readings and/or inaccurate information. Often these devices are not the same quality as the professional devices used in the hospital or in your physician’s office.
  • Numbers can be deceiving. The symptoms you experience are more important than the numbers that appear on such If you have any questions, consult your physician.
  • If you are asked to collect orthostatic vitals at home by your physician, or for referral to a research program, this is a great time to use at-home devices. However, if you have chronic orthostatic intolerance, it is important to limit the frequency of measuring such data on your own, as it may worsen your


Ask your doctor about using at-home diagnostic equipment.


Download the Orthostatic Vitals Test Form 

2 Responses

  1. I have a question! The last point states “it is important to limit the frequency of measuring such data on your own, as it may worsen your symptoms.”

    I was instructed to log my vitals at least once every hour (before and after position change) for 7 months (Jan-jul) until my next appointment. I thought this was a pretty big assignment since I’ve also had to do it from oct-jan. Anyway, I was curious as to why it worsen symptoms and wondered if someone could explain it to me, or point me in a direction with answers. Sorry in advance if the answer is obvious. 😅

    1. Hi Jessa. You are right. That is a big assignment. The problem with doing the orthostatic vitals regularly is that if you have an abnormal set of vitals when standing you are causing your body to have symptoms that make you feel worse on a regular basis. In POTS the problem is caused by too much circulating norepinephrine. I would ask the health care provider why it is important to take the vitals so frequently. -K

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