Drugs & Aging

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 495–505 | Cite as

Orthostatic Hypotension in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Pathophysiology and Management
  • Jean-Michel SenardEmail author
  • Christine Brefel-Courbon
  • Olivier Rascol
  • Jean-Louis Montastruc
Therapy in Practice


Orthostatic hypotension is common in elderly patients, and is now considered to be an important prognostic factor for cognitive decline and mortality. In patients with Parkinson’s disease, the prevalence of symptomatic orthostatic hypotension may be as high as 20%. Two factors could explain this high prevalence. First, dopaminergic drugs may induce or worsen orthostatic hypotension. Secondly, Parkinson’s disease is a cause of primary autonomic failure with an involvement of the peripheral autonomic system as shown by the ubiquitous distribution of Lewy bodies and reduced iobenguane [metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG)] cardiac uptake. These pathological and pharmacological characteristics clearly differentiate autonomic failure of Parkinson’s disease from multiple system atrophy. If autonomic abnormalities appear to be present from the first stage of the disease, early onset (within the first year) of symptomatic orthostatic hypotension in the course of parkinsonism can be considered as an exclusion criteria for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.

No specific clinical trials have evaluated the effects of antihypotensive drugs in patients with Parkinson’s disease and thus no specific therapeutic strategy can be recommended. The management of orthostatic hypotension in patients with Parkinson’s disease should always start with patient education and nonpharmacological treatment. Drug therapy should be reserved for symptomatic patients who do not get benefit from nonpharmacological management. Among the available drugs, α1-adrenergic agonists (mainly midodrine) or plasma volume expanders (mainly fludrocortisone) are the most frequently used. There are also some drugs that are currently investigational such as yohimbine and droxidopa. Other drugs such as desmopressin or octreotide may be of interest in some situations. Domperidone is widely used in patients with parkinsonism with no proven effect on orthostatic hypotension.


Orthostatic Hypotension Multiple System Atrophy Yohimbine Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring Domperidone 
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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Michel Senard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christine Brefel-Courbon
    • 1
  • Olivier Rascol
    • 1
  • Jean-Louis Montastruc
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Medical and Clinical Pharmacology, INSERM U317, Faculty of MedicinePaul Sabatier UniversityToulouse cedexFrance

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