In patients with autonomic failure orthostatic hypotension results from an impaired capacity to increase vascular resistance during standing. This fundamental defect leads to increased downward pooling of venous blood and a consequent reduction in stroke volume and cardiac output that exaggerates the orthostatic fall in blood pressure. The location of excessive venous blood pooling has not been established so far, but present data suggest that the abdominal compartment and perhaps leg skin vasculature are the most likely candidates. To improve the orthostatic tolerance in patients with autonomic failure, protective measures that reduce excessive orthostatic blood pooling have been developed and evaluated. These measures include physical counter-manoeuvres and abdominal compression.
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