- The Basics of Low Blood Pressure
- Here’s Exactly What Could Be Causing Your Low Blood Pressure
- Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension): Symptoms, Signs, Causes
- Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
- What is blood pressure?
- How common is low blood pressure?
- Who is affected by low blood pressure?
- What causes low blood pressure?
- What are the symptoms of low blood pressure?
- What can you do to help relieve symptoms of low blood pressure?
- Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)
- Risk factors for hypotension
- Symptoms of hypotension
- Diagnosis of hypotension
- Treatments of hypotension
- Home treatments include:
- Drugs that treat hypotension include:
- Understanding Low Blood Pressure
- Low blood pressure: Natural remedies, causes, and symptoms
- 1. Eat more salt
- 2. Avoid alcoholic beverages
- 3. Discuss medications with a doctor
- 4. Cross legs while sitting
- 5. Drink water
- 6. Eat small meals frequently
- 7. Wear compression stockings
- 8. Avoid sudden position changes
- 9. Be aware of symptoms
The Basics of Low Blood Pressure
- What Is Low Blood Pressure?
- Diagnosis & Treatment
Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure (less than 90/60).
A blood pressure reading appears as two numbers. The first and higher of the two is a measure of systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood. The second number measures diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 (systolic/diastolic). In healthy people, low blood pressure without any symptoms is not usually a concern and does not need to be treated. But low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying problem — especially in the elderly — where it may cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.
Chronic low blood pressure with no symptoms is almost never serious. But health problems can occur when blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain is deprived of an adequate blood supply. This can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness.
Sudden drops in blood pressure most commonly occur in someone who's rising from a lying down or sitting position to standing. This kind of low blood pressure is known as postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Another type of low blood pressure can occur when someone stands for a long period of time.
This is called neurally mediated hypotension. When it leads to passing out, if is called vasovagal syncope.
Postural hypotension is considered a failure of the cardiovascular system or nervous system to react appropriately to sudden changes. Normally, when you stand up, some blood pools in your lower extremities. Uncorrected, this would cause your blood pressure to fall.
But your body normally compensates by sending messages to your heart to beat faster and to your blood vessels to constrict. This offsets the drop in blood pressure. If this does not happen, or happens too slowly, postural hypotension results and can lead to fainting.
The risk of both low and high blood pressure normally increases with age due in part to normal changes during aging. In addition, blood flow to the heart muscle and the brain declines with age, often as a result of plaque buildup in blood vessels. An estimated 10% to 20% of people over age 65 have postural hypotension.
The cause of low blood pressure isn't always clear. It may be associated with the following:
What Causes a Sudden Drop in Blood Pressure?
Sudden drops in blood pressure can be life-threatening. Causes of this type of hypotension include:
Who Gets Postural Hypotension?
Postural hypotension, which is low blood pressure when standing up suddenly, can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, such as dehydration, lack of food, or being overly fatigued. It can also be influenced by genetic make-up, aging, medication, dietary and psychological factors, and acute triggers, such as infection and allergy.
Postural hypotension occurs most frequently in people who are taking drugs to control high blood pressure (hypertension). It can also be related to pregnancy, strong emotions, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), or diabetes. The elderly are particularly affected, especially those who have high blood pressure or autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
Hypotension after meals is a common cause of dizziness and falls after eating. This is most common after large meals containing a lot of carbohydrates. It’s believed to be caused by blood pooling into the vessels of the stomach and intestines.
Several drugs are commonly associated with postural hypotension. These medications can be divided into two major categories:
- Drugs used to treat high blood pressure, such as diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Drugs that have hypotension as a side effect, including nitrates, erectile dysfunction medications, drugs for Parkinson's disease, antipsychotics, neuroleptics, anti-anxiety agents, sedative-hypnotics, and tricyclic antidepressants
Common causes of naturally occurring postural hypotension include:
- Dehydration and electrolyte loss, which may result from diarrhea, vomiting, excessive blood loss during menstruation, or other conditions
- Age-associated decline in blood pressure regulation, which may be worsened by certain health conditions or medications
Certain diseases can also cause postural hypotension. These include:
American Heart Association: “Low Blood Pressure.”
Ferri, F. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012 Mosby, 2012.
FDA: “Midodrine Update: February 8, 2012.”
Thaisetthawatkul P. Neurology 2004.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: “What Is Hypotension?”
Libby, P and Bonow, R. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, Saunders, 2007.
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Here’s Exactly What Could Be Causing Your Low Blood Pressure
Plus how to bring that BP back up to speed.
Here's a scary stat: heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Add that to the fact that about half of Americans have at least one key risk factor for heart disease, such as low blood pressure (which causes poor blood flow to the heart and other organs) and don't know it.
But there's good news in all these grim numbers: “Blood pressure remains the major reversible cardiovascular risk factor,” says Mark Moyad, M.D., M.P.H., author of The Supplement Handbook.
Read on to find out seven possible causes low blood pressure, and how to raise yours if needed for a ticker that's in tip-top shape.
Hypotension, the medical term for low blood pressure, is classified as a reading of 90 mmHg systolic (the top number in blood pressure reading) over 60 mmHg diastolic.
Symptoms of low blood pressure (including weakness, dizziness, fatigue, and sweating, among others) can occur in one person with a low reading and not another, says Dr. Moyad.
In fact, unless there is an underlying disease, having low blood pressure is often an indicator of good health.
So what causes low blood pressure? There are often a few factors that may be causing yours to drop. Keep reading to discover ‘em all. (Related: The Most Common Causes of High Blood Pressure, Explained)
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of hypotension, resulting in dizziness and weakness, says Dr. Moyad. If you suffer from frequent dehydration, be mindful of how you're hydrating. Consume less alcohol and more water.
“Remember this saying: 'Clear is Cool,'” he says. “This means your urine should be clear in color (a sign of hydration) and not dark yellow.
” Other hydration helpers include foods with more sodium and reducing the intake of potassium-boosting foods.
Another common cause of dehydration? Over-exercising, according to Jay Wohlgemuth, M.D., senior vice president and chief healthcare officer at HealthTap. “If you really overdo it (especially in the heat) and need to replenish, sometimes water isn't enough,” he says.
“Make sure to hydrate with an electrolyte replacement Gatorade to hydrate quickly.” Dr. Wohlgemuth notes that frequent travelers should be mindful too, as airplane travel can leave you feeling dehydrated.
(Check out exactly how to stay hydrated while training for an endurance race.)
Postprandial hypotension, which is when your blood pressure drops suddenly after a meal, is common as we age, says Dr. Moyad. “Try not to eat large meals. Smaller meals with fewer carbs tend to prevent blood pressure swings.” (Related: Finally, An Easy-to-Follow Guide to Portion Sizes)
A slow heart rate, valve disease, or other heart problems that can prevent the heart from adequately pumping blood could also be causes of low blood pressure.
If you have symptoms such as vision changes, fainting, or frequent dizziness, you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of having a larger heart condition.
(See also: This Woman Thought She Had Anxiety, But It Was Actually a Rare Heart Defect)
But both M.D.s emphasize the importance of staying calm (and not scaring yourself for no reason!). Just because you have low blood pressure doesn't mean you're also going to have a heart condition. “Work with a doctor you trust to determine if you have low blood pressure with symptoms,” says Dr. Moyad.
“Having just low blood pressure might mean the healthiest option for you to do is nothing. Your doctor will do a series of blood tests among other evaluations to determine if there is a reason for this drop.
” If there's not, your pressure may change simply because of age or lifestyle changes, such as cutting back on drinking and smoking.
Sometimes a change in blood pressure can be blamed simply for sticking another candle in your birthday cake. “As we get older, our ability to handle drops or changes in blood pressure changes, and we become more sensitive to these changes,” says Dr. Moyad. (Here's how to calculate your heart's age to determine if your ticker is aging faster than the rest of your body.)
“Many supplements can cause blood pressure drops,” says Dr. Moyad. These include arginine, citrulline, fish oil, melatonin, anti-stress supplements, and even some calcium supplements.
Some prescription drugs can do the same, he adds. So make sure you talk to your doctor about the possible side effects before starting a new medication. (Psst…
have you heard about vitamin IV drips? Here’s what you need to know about this trendy treatment.)
Anemia, a condition in which you have a reduced number of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body, can increase your risk of hypotension. Symptoms of anemia are similar to those of low blood pressure, such as lack of energy, dizziness, and feeling weak. (Oh and add increased risk for bruising to the anemia symptom list.)
Causes of anemia range from illness to your diet, so make sure you talk to your doctor about your symptoms and the best form of treatment if you suspect you might be suffering from anemia.
Hormone conditions from low blood sugar to thyroid disease may also cause low blood pressure, says Dr. Moyad. Be diligent about your yearly physical. Your doctor will take blood work that could flag these problems early on, so they can be treated and prevented earlier.
Chronic conditions such as an adrenal insufficiency or nervous system disorder could cause orthostatic hypotension, which is a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up, according to Dr.
Wohlgemuth. While mild symptoms are generally nothing to worry about, if you have symptoms for a few hours or days you should seek medical treatment to find out what's really going on, he explains.
While you might be alarmed to find you have low blood pressure and are investigating what causes low blood pressure in your body, Dr. Moyad stresses the importance of making sure you get an accurate reading.
Many factors can influence your blood pressure levels, from stress right before the measurement to keeping your legs crossed—even having a full bladder.
This is why it's important to know your average blood pressure, in the event that at your yearly physical you get a number that skews way too low (or high).
If you're really concerned, Dr. Moyad recommends taking your blood pressure at home every few months to keep a current record. You can get an at-home monitor online or at drugstores for under $100.
“No other health number in medicine has such a large variation or risk of being inaccurate,” says Dr. Moyad. “It's important to know your numbers to know the difference between a problem and being inaccurate.
” (Up Next: What You Should Know About Your Resting Heart Rate)
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension): Symptoms, Signs, Causes
Blood pressure is one of the vital signs of the body. It refers to the force blood applies on the blood vessel walls during the contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle. Blood pressure measures pressure in the arteries, the vessels that carry blood away from the heart. The responsiveness of the arteries to blood flow determines blood pressure.
Low blood pressure results in inadequate blood flow — and therefore inadequate delivery of oxygen and nutrients — to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other organs. This can be damaging and cause permanent harm.
The heart circulates blood throughout the body with every beat. The pressure exerted on the arteries during the heartbeat is called the systolic pressure. It is the first or top number in blood pressure measurement.
The pressure exerted on the arteries between heartbeats is called the diastolic pressure. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 millimeters (mm) or mercury (Hg) is considered normal.
Anything above that reading is considered high blood pressure.
The left lower chamber of the heart (ventricle) receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it throughout the body. The heart fills with blood between heartbeats. This phase in the heart cycle is called diastole.
When the heart pumps to push blood throughout the arteries, this phase is called systole. You can place your fingers on your neck or the inside of your wrist to detect your heartbeat.
The pulse you feel is the contraction of the heart's left ventricle.
Several factors influence blood pressure. Blood volume and blood vessel wall behavior are two important determinants of blood pressure. The more blood pumped with each heartbeat, the higher the blood pressure. The presence of stiff or narrow artery walls that resist blood flow also increases blood pressure. Having lower blood volume and open, flexible arteries decreases blood pressure.
Baroreceptors are small nerve cells within arteries close to the heart that help regulate blood pressure. Baroreceptors communicate with the kidneys, arteries, veins, and heart to increase, decrease, or maintain blood pressure, as needed. The function of the baroreceptors is to ensure that sufficient blood reaches the organs and tissues of the body.
If blood pressure becomes too low, baroreceptors send signals to the heart telling it to beat faster and pump more blood per minute. The result is blood flow increases and blood pressure rises.
If blood pressure becomes too high, baroreceptors send signals to the veins instructing them to expand and store more blood and return less blood to the heart. The result is blood flow decreases and blood pressure becomes lower. Conversely, veins can become narrower and return more blood to the heart, which increases blood pressure.
Baroreceptors communicate directly with arteries when blood pressure is too high or too low to bring it into a more appropriate level. Baroreceptors tell arteries to constrict when blood pressure is too low to help raise blood pressure. Baroreceptors tell arteries to relax when blood pressure is too high to help lower blood pressure.
Kidneys participate in blood pressure control by regulating urine production. When kidneys pull more water the blood, blood pressure decreases.
When the kidneys decrease urine output, water remains in the blood and blood pressure increases.
The action of the kidneys on blood pressure is slow — acting over hours to days — compared to baroreceptor control and other systems that influence blood pressure very quickly.
Lower blood pressure is associated with a lower risk of conditions heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Those who exercise regularly, athletes, non-smokers, and those who maintain an optimal body weight experience lower blood pressures. Lower blood pressure is a good thing as long as it doesn't cause symptoms that could damage organs and tissues of the body.
Many people live with low blood pressure but they don't experience any symptoms. If that's the case, the low blood pressure is of no consequence. However, others who have low blood pressure experience dizziness and lightheadedness.
This is an indication that insufficient blood flow is reaching the brain. This, in turn, can lead to weakness, nausea, confusion, and blurry vision.
Low blood pressure can affect other organs leading to shortness of breath, fainting, blacking out, chest pain, and cool, clammy skin.
Low blood pressure may be induced by conditions that decrease tension in artery walls or decrease blood volume. Dehydration and bleeding are two examples of conditions that reduce blood volume.
Conditions that reduce the amount of blood pumped by the heart — such as cardiomyopathy and heart attack — may be associated with lower blood pressure.
Injuries to the spinal cord and side effects from certain medications can also reduce blood pressure.
Proper functioning of the central nervous system is necessary to maintain adequate blood pressure. The vagus nerve and adrenaline system of the body work together to affect blood pressure. When the vagus nerve is overstimulated, veins expand, insufficient blood returns to the heart, and blood pressure may decrease.
Vasovagal syncope is a term for a type of fainting that occurs when the vagus nerve is overstimulated. Vasovagal syncope may happen to those who are sensitive to pain or cannot stand the sight of blood. The vagus nerve is overstimulated in these cases and fainting occurs.
This type of fainting may even occur when straining to urinate or while having a bowel movement.
In some kinds of spinal cord injury, adrenaline to the arteries is blocked. When this happens, the arteries remain wide open and adequate blood pressure is not maintained.
Conditions not associated with the neurological system may cause low blood pressure. Anything that causes a loss of fluids, including dehydration from diarrhea, vomiting, or bleeding may cause low blood pressure. Adrenal gland dysfunction, pregnancy, and blood loss may lower blood pressure as well.
Medications used to treat conditions other than low blood pressure may cause low blood pressure as a side effect.
Erectile dysfunction medications such as sildenafil (Viagra), tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil), and Parkinson's medications such as levodopa-carbidopa (Sinemet), are a few medications whose side effects may include low blood pressure. Narcotic pain medications and alcohol also decrease blood pressure.
When blood pressure medications work too well, low blood pressure may result. Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers (CCBs), beta blockers, and diuretics (water pills) are some types of blood pressure medications.
Sometimes, a bacterial or fungal infection from another part of the body enters the blood. This type of infection is called septicemia. It's potentially life-threatening and may cause severe low blood pressure called septic shock that may damage organs. Septicemia may result from diverticulitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, or other infections.
Some people have a severe, potentially life-threatening, allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to peanuts, IV contrast dye, bee stings, antibiotics, or other foods and substances. The allergic cascade results in the release of substances to “fight” the offending agent and causes a severe drop in blood pressure. Anaphylactic reactions are rare.
To diagnose low blood pressure, a doctor may measure the patient's blood pressure both while lying down (supine) and standing up. People with low blood pressure may experience lightheadedness and dizziness upon standing up. Heart rate often increases to compensate for the low blood pressure.
After the diagnosis of low blood pressure is confirmed, the doctor will identify the cause of the problem.
Sometimes the cause of low blood pressure may be easily identifiable, such as a wound that is bleeding, but most of the time the doctor may need to order other tests to uncover the cause of the low blood pressure.
Anyone who experiences low blood pressure or believes he or she may be experiencing low blood pressure should be evaluated by a physician. Even if low blood pressure does not cause any symptoms, the patient should still be evaluated.
Treatment for low blood pressure varies depending on the cause. If the patient is already taking medication to treat high blood pressure, the dose of the medication may need to be adjusted.
If fluid loss from diarrhea or vomiting is causing a drop in blood pressure, IV fluids may be administered to bring blood pressure back up to normal.
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- American Heart Association: “Low Blood Pressure.”
- American Heart Association: “Prevention & Treatment of High Blood Pressure.”
- American Heart Association: “What Is High Blood Pressure.”
- American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology: “Baroreceptor Reflex Function.”
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “What Is High Blood Pressure.”
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke.”
- National Dysautonomia Research Foundation: “The Autonomic Nervous System.”
- National Kidney Foundation: “How Your Kidneys Work.”
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
Low blood pressure (hypotension) occurs when blood pressure drops below the normal range. Doctors generally define low blood pressure as 90/60 mm Hg or below, commonly said as “90 over 60” Usually, doctors only treat hypotension if it is severe enough to cause symptoms.
Low blood pressure can be temporary, or it can be a chronic (long-lasting) condition. The main types of hypotension are:
- Orthostatic hypotension: People with orthostatic hypotension (sometimes called postural hypotension) feel faint or lightheaded when they stand up or change position suddenly.
- Postprandial hypotension: This condition causes people to feel lightheaded or dizzy after eating a meal because their blood pressure drops suddenly.
- Neurally mediated hypotension: People with this disorder feel faint, dizzy, and nauseous after exercising or standing for a long time.
- Severe hypotension linked to shock: Shock is the most extreme form of hypotension. When a person is in shock, blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels, and the brain and organs can’t get enough blood to function.
What is blood pressure?
As blood pumps through the circulatory system, it pushes against the walls of the arteries and veins. Blood pressure is the force of the blood as it presses against the blood vessel walls. It is measured in systolic pressure (when the blood is pumping) and diastolic pressure (between beats, when your heart is at rest).
Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. Normal blood pressure is considered to be below 120/80 mm Hg. In a blood pressure reading, the top number refers to systolic pressure, and the bottom number refers to the diastolic pressure.
How common is low blood pressure?
Hypotension is fairly common, and different types are more ly to occur in certain groups of people. Orthostatic hypotension is common in pregnant women and older adults. Postprandial hypotension is common in older people.
Who is affected by low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure can affect people of all ages, although it is more common in older people who are frail or bedridden. Pregnant women and older adults are more ly to have orthostatic hypotension. Children and young adults are most ly to experience neurally mediated hypotension, but they often outgrow it.
Hypotension commonly affects people who:
- Are taking certain medications that cause low blood pressure.
- Have hormonal imbalances or vitamin deficiencies.
- Also have heart problems or liver disease.
What causes low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure is often a sign of another medical condition. Hypotension has a variety of causes. They include:
What are the symptoms of low blood pressure?
Symptoms of low blood pressure can come on suddenly or slowly get worse over time. They include:
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting.
- Blurred vision.
- Skin that is cold and sweaty.
- Quick, shallow breathing.
What can you do to help relieve symptoms of low blood pressure?
Depending on the type of low blood pressure you have, you may be able to relieve some of your symptoms by:
- Eating a healthy diet with fewer carbohydrates and smaller meals.
- Drinking more water and avoiding alcohol.
- Getting up slowly after you’ve been sitting or lying down.
- Focusing on breathing a few times before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/08/2019.
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Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)
Hypotension is abnormally low blood pressure (lower than 90/60 mm Hg). If your blood pressure gets too low, it can cause dizziness, fainting or death.
Low blood pressure is not a condition that is usually treated except if it occurs in the elderly or occurs suddenly. In patients over 65, it could indicate the brain and limbs are not receiving adequate blood supply. If your blood pressure drops suddenly, it could deprive the brain of blood, which can lead to lightheadedness or dizziness.
When blood pressure drops suddenly after moving from a lying down to a sitting position, it is called postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension.
When blood pressure drops from standing for a long period of time and leads to passing out, it is called vasovagal syncope.
Common related conditions
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
There are several causes of hypotension including:
- Prolonged bed rest
- Low or high body temperature
- Excessive blood loss
- Severe dehydration
- Blood infections such as sepsis
- Anaphylaxis allergic reaction
- Reactions to medication or alcohol
Risk factors for hypotension
- Age — your risk of low pressure increases as you age. Approximately 10-20% of people older than 65 have postural hypotension.
- Medications — medications, such as alpha blockers, can lower blood pressure.
- Other serious conditions — if you have diabetes or Parkinson’s disease, you have a higher risk for developing hypotension.
Symptoms of hypotension
Most doctors don’t consider hypotension serious unless it produces noticeable symptoms such as:
- Blurred vision
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
If you have cold, clammy or pale skin, rapid or shallow breathing, weak or rapid pulse or confusion, you could be suffering from extreme hypotension, which could lead to death. Call 911 immediately if you suspect you are suffering from extreme hypotension.
Diagnosis of hypotension
One abnormally low blood pressure reading without any other symptoms will usually not cause concern. In most cases, your doctor will monitor you over a series of visits to evaluate if the low blood pressure is a consistent pattern. The physician may also order other diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of the condition.
Tests that your doctor may order include:
- Blood tests — can help you determine if you have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia/diabetes (high blood sugar) or anemia (low red blood count).
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) — can detect the heart’s electrical signals to detect heart rhythm or structural abnormalities, as well as problems with the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
- Echocardiogram — can show detailed images of the heart to determine structure and function.
- Stress test — during a stress test, you will do some form of exercise to get your heart pumping faster and then you will be monitored with an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram.
- Tilt table test — will determine how your body reacts to changes in position; you will lie on a table that is then tilted to simulate moving from a lying to standing position.
Treatments of hypotension
Low blood pressure that doesn’t show any symptoms does not typically require treatment. For those who do have symptoms, you will be treated what the underlying cause of the low blood pressure is.
Home treatments include:
- Increasing water consumption and limiting alcohol consumption — water helps increase blood volume and prevent dehydration.
- Wearing compression socks — wearing compression socks promotes blood flow in the legs.
- Consuming more salt — sodium makes it harder for your body to rid itself of excess fluid and adds strain to the blood vessels resulting in raised blood pressure.
- Exercising regularly — regular exercise promotes blood flow.
If conservative treatments are not successful in increasing your blood pressure, your doctor may need to prescribe medication.
Drugs that treat hypotension include:
- Fludrocortisone — a drug which helps the body retain sodium in the kidney, which helps raise blood pressure.
- Midodrine — a drug that can increase blood pressure by activating receptors on the small arteries and veins.
Understanding Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure (hypotension) is primarily a concern if it produces symptoms or if you have a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure (below 120/80 millimeters of mercury, or mmHG) can protect you from a host of health issues.
But blood pressure that is too low—defined as below 90/60 mmHg—can prevent your organs from getting adequate amounts of the oxygenated blood they need to function properly. Hypotension is of particular concern for vital organs the brain.
If you have low blood pressure but don’t experience any symptoms, then your blood pressure is most ly not a problem. However, if you do experience symptoms, you need to talk to your healthcare provider. Signs and symptoms of low blood pressure include:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Fainting (syncope)
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cool, clammy, pale skin
- Shallow, rapid breathing
- Thirst and dehydration
There are many different reasons why you may be experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure. The three main types of low blood pressure have different causes.
Orthostatic hypotension is a drop in blood pressure when you stand suddenly or rise up after lying down.
Orthostatic hypotension is seen in a variety of conditions including pregnancy, dehydration, anemia, heart conditions, thyroid disorders, Addison's disease, diabetes, low blood sugar, and nervous system disorders including Parkinson's disease. It is also common in older age, especially after meals.
Neurally mediated hypotension is seen in disorders of the autonomic nervous system, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and vasovagal syncope. In this type, low blood pressure occurs after extended periods of standing.
Emotional stress can also be a trigger of neurally mediated hypotension.
Severe hypotension related to shock is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. It is seen in major blood loss, septic shock, severe fluid loss, cardiogenic shock from a heart attack or arrhythmia, and vasodilatory shock seen in head injury, liver failure, or anaphylaxis.
The top number is the systolic blood pressure, which refers to the pressure created in the arteries with each heartbeat.
The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between each beat.
Your doctor might take your blood pressure as part of a routine check-up, part of a sick visit, or after you've reported any of the above symptoms.
When low blood pressure is detected (a reading below 90/60 mmHg), the doctor's goal is then to find the underlying cause. They will start this investigation by asking you about your personal medical history, including any medications and supplements you are taking.
Your doctor also might recommend the following tests:
- Blood tests to identify conditions that may be impacting your blood pressure, diabetes or anemia
- Electrocardiogram (ECG), which can indicate issue with your heart's rhythm and structural abnormalities
- Echocardiogram, which produces detailed images of your heart's function and structure
- Stress test to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure while walking on a treadmill
- Tilt table test to determine if your blood pressure is impacted by standing from a prone position
Because low blood pressure can be the result of many different conditions, treatment may be specific to the condition causing it. Managing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arrhythmias, liver disease, thyroid disease, and other hormonal disorders will help prevent low blood pressure episodes.
Here are some common causes of low blood pressure with associated treatments:
- Decreased blood volume from dehydration or blood loss is treated with replacing fluids or, if severe, with transfusion.
- Hypotension due to anemia caused by nutritional deficiencies can be resolved with the appropriate vitamins and minerals.
- Your medications may need to be adjusted if they are the cause. Always do this in consultation with your doctor rather than discontinuing them abruptly.
- If orthostatic hypotension is primarily due to aging, you can learn to avoid things that provoke the problem, such as getting up suddenly from a seated or reclining position.
- Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal. Those who are at risk often carry an epinephrine self-injector and try diligently to avoid their trigger. It requires emergency treatment.
- Septic shock and other forms of shock require an immediate medical response. Supportive care—including intravenous (IV) fluid and medications to raise your blood pressure (vasopressors)—are often required, as well as treating the underlying cause.
Pregnancy hypotension will usually resolve after giving birth. Towards the end of pregnancy, it is helpful to recline on the left side, which reduces pressure on the blood vessels from the growing uterus and fetus.
Neurally-mediated low blood pressure is most often seen in younger individuals and the condition usually resolves quickly without treatment.
Staying hydrated, exercising regularly, eating well, and reducing stress all help keep blood pressure levels in the healthy range.
Generally, low blood pressure is most significant when it occurs suddenly or when it is the result of another disease. If you are experiencing any symptoms of hypotension, do not delay in speaking with your healthcare provider.
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American Heart Association. Low Blood Pressure – When Blood Pressure Is Too Low. Updated Oct 31, 2016.
Low blood pressure: Natural remedies, causes, and symptoms
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While low blood pressure might seem a good thing to have, a person’s blood pressure can occassionally be too low and cause problems.
In some situations, natural solutions can raise low blood pressure and relieve some of the symptoms that accompany it. In other cases, intervention in the form of medications and therapies may be needed to raise blood pressure to a healthy level.
Share on PinterestA blood pressure reading lower than 90 mmHg over 60 mmHg is considered to be low blood pressure.
Blood pressure can be measured using millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
Low blood pressure or hypotension is most regularly defined as any reading lower than 90 mmHg over 60 mmHg.
However, most doctors will only describe low blood pressure as a problem if a person has the symptoms of low blood pressure.
Low blood is not a concern if there are no symptoms present. However, when low blood pressure causes symptoms it can be a sign that not enough blood is getting to the organs.
If this happens for too long, it can cause serious consequences, including:
- heart attack
- kidney failure
Most people with low blood pressure do not need medications or other medical interventions to raise blood pressure. There are plenty of natural ways and lifestyle changes to raise low blood pressure, including the following lifestyle changes.
1. Eat more salt
Contrary to popular advice, low-sodium diets are not good for everyone with blood pressure problems.
People with low blood pressure should consider increasing their sodium intake moderately to help raise blood pressure.
2. Avoid alcoholic beverages
Alcohol can lower blood pressure further, so people with low blood pressure should avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
3. Discuss medications with a doctor
Low blood pressure can be a side effect of a variety of medications.
If symptoms of low blood pressure begin after starting a medication, a person should discuss the symptoms with their doctor.
4. Cross legs while sitting
Crossing the legs while sitting has been shown to increase blood pressure. For people with high blood pressure, this can be a problem.
For people with low blood pressure symptoms, crossed legs may help increase blood pressure with minimal effort.
5. Drink water
Drinking more water can help increase blood volume, which can aleviate one of the potential causes of low blood pressure. It can also help avoid dehydration.
6. Eat small meals frequently
Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day may help with low blood pressure.
This is because the smaller meals help prevent a drop in a blood pressure associated with eating larger, heavier meals.
7. Wear compression stockings
Compression stockings help reduce the amount of blood that gets caught in the lower legs and feet, so shifting it elsewhere.
Compression stockings are also used to help relieve pressure and pain associated with varicose veins. They are available to purchase online.
8. Avoid sudden position changes
Sitting up or standing up rapidly can cause a feeling of lightheadedness, dizziness, or potential fainting in people with low blood pressure.
In these cases, the heart has not pumped enough blood through the body quickly enough to account for the sudden change in position or elevation.
9. Be aware of symptoms
Low blood pressure is only considered a problem if symptoms exist. If there are no symptoms present, low blood pressure should be taken as a sign of good health.
It is important for a person to know the symptoms and what to look out for if their low blood pressure starts to cause problems.
There are a number of potential causes of low blood pressure. In some cases, the underlying condition will need to be treated to correct low blood pressure.
Some of the most common causes include:
- nutritional deficiencies
- prolonged bed rest
- severe infections
- allergic reactions
- fall in blood volume
- heart issues
However, low blood pressure can also be an indicator of good health if a person is not experiencing any symptoms.
Share on PinterestSymptoms may not always be present or obvious with low blood pressure. However, they may include fatigue, blurred vision, and trouble focusing.
Some people with low blood pressure have no symptoms. In these people, low blood pressure is generally not dangerous or concerning.
However, even showing one or two symptoms may signal a problem. Low blood pressure can cause the following:
- inability to concentrate
- blurred or distorted vision
Some people may have symptoms of low blood pressure only when standing. This is known as orthostatic hypotension. Usually, this is not dangerous unless positional changes cause a person’s blood pressure to drop rapidly, which may lead to fainting.
In more extreme cases, low blood pressure may lead to shock. Shock is a serious medical emergency caused by reduced blood flow throughout the body. It can damage the organs at a cellular level.
The symptoms of shock include the following:
- rapid or shallow breathing
- clammy skin
- confusion or disorientation
- rapid heartbeat
- weak pulse
A person experiencing symptoms of shock needs urgent medical attention.
Share on PinterestLow blood pressure may occassionally be caused or made worse by medication or underlying health conditions.
Doctors typically agree that low blood pressure is only an issue if symptoms exist.
A person with low blood pressure should be aware of possible symptoms and what medications may cause a further drop in their blood pressure when they start taking them.
Experiencing any of the symptoms of low blood pressure may also indicate an underlying condition that may need to be addressed.
Anyone experiencing signs and symptoms of shock needs to seek immediate medical attention, as shock is a life-threatening medical emergency.
People who do not respond well to natural solutions may want to ask their doctor about medications that help raise blood pressure levels.
A person may also want to consider:
- not lifting heavy objects
- not standing in one place for a long time
- raising the head of their bed
- avoiding prolonged exposure to hot water
- drinking more fluids when exercising or on hot days
Un high blood pressure, which is associated with many potential health problems, low blood pressure is often considered a marker of good health.
A person should be aware of signs and symptoms of low blood pressure and talk to a doctor if low blood pressure is causing problems for them.
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