People are more aware of high blood pressure than hypotension (low blood pressure). So, my intention is to keep this topic informative and simple for a better understanding of hypotension.
Normal blood pressure should be 120/80 mm Hg. Also, blood pressure that is lower than this is not accompanied by any symptoms and should be considered normal.
Low blood pressure is advisable, but for some people, it causes no problems. Many people experience dizziness and fainting when they have abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension), and they can turn to be life-threatening in severe cases.
Blood pressure lower than 90 mm Hg (systolic) or 60 mm Hg (diastolic) is generally considered low blood pressure. Low blood pressure can range from dehydration to more severe medical disorders. It is important to find what is causing low blood pressure so that it can be treated.
If a person experiences any symptom with blood pressure below normal, it is known as hypotension or low blood pressure.
When standing upright after sitting or lying, the blood vessels respond to gravity by constricting, thus increasing blood pressure. Orthostatic hypotension means the blood vessels do not adjust to a standing position, allow the blood pressure to drop, and result in a feeling of lightheadedness. The causes are:
Nervous system diseases, such as neuropathy.
Irregular heartbeat (heart arrhythmia).
Prolonged bed rest.
The symptoms are as follows:
Difficulty in focusing.
Cold, clammy, and pale skin.
Fatigue, rapid and shallow breathing.
If any of these symptoms are accompanied by lower blood pressure reading, it is always better to discuss with your healthcare provider to rule out any possible cause of such manifestations.
Blood loss is seen in trauma or internal bleeding.
Medicines like diuretics, blood pressure medicines, and antidepressants.
Heart problems such as severe bradycardia, heart valve pathology, heart failure, and myocardial infarction could be associated with hypotension.
Allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock due to medicines, food allergy or wasp bite, which is characterized by a fall in pressure, swelling in the throat or face causing breathing difficulty, and severe itching.
Disorders of the autonomic nervous system.
A sudden decrease in blood pressure with increased heart rate could be a sign of internal bleeding, which is considered an emergency condition, and the patient needs to reach the emergency room (ER) straight away.
If you have a possible explanation of your low blood pressure, like having a prolonged sunbath or a strenuous workout causing dehydration, then such symptoms get resolved quite fast as the rehydration is initiated. But, if you have symptoms mentioned earlier and do not have a possible explanation or you usually have higher readings, then it is always recommended to discuss such matters of hypotension with your healthcare providers as above mentioned conditions should be ruled out.
Low blood pressure is not considered a big issue as long as any symptom is not accompanied by it. But, if you generally have higher blood pressure readings or have any symptoms accompanied by low pressure, then you should inform your healthcare providers as any underlying cause could be the reason for that.
Finding the cause for low blood pressure is all we need. Besides taking a medical history, and doing a physical examination, and measuring the blood pressure, the doctor will recommend the following:
1. Blood Tests - It helps to find the overall health as well as,
Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).
High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia or diabetes).
Low red blood cell count (anemia).
They help to cause lower than normal blood pressure.
2. Tilt Table Test - When low blood pressure occurs on standing or from faulty brain signals, a tilt table test is done to evaluate how the body reacts to changes in position.
Procedure: Lie on the table that is tilted to raise the upper part of the body, which simulates the movement from a horizontal to a standing position.
3. Electrocardiogram (ECG) - It is a painless, non-invasive test where soft, sticky patches are attached to the chest, arms, and legs. These patches help to detect the electrical signals of the heart, and at the same time, a machine records the signals and displays them on a screen. This procedure is performed in the doctor's office, and it detects,
Irregularities in the heart rhythm.
Structural problems in the heart.
Improper supply of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle.
Having a heart attack or had one in the past.
Low blood pressure causing no signs and symptoms or causing mild symptoms rarely requires treatment. When you find symptoms, then treatment depends on the cause. When medication causes low blood pressure, the treatment involves changing the medication or lowering the dose. When the cause is not known, the goal is to raise the blood pressure and reduce the signs and symptoms. Depending on the age and the type of low blood pressure, treatment differs. They are,
People with low blood pressure can use more salt in their meals to increase their blood pressure. But excess sodium can cause heart failure, so it is important to check with the doctor before usage.
Drink plenty of fluids as it can increase blood volume and prevent dehydration.
The elastic stocking helps to relieve pain and swelling of varicose veins and reduces the pooling of blood in the legs.
Several medications are used to treat low blood pressure that occurs when standing up (orthostatic hypotension). The drug Fludrocortisone boosts blood volume and is used to treat low blood pressure. Drug Midodrine (Orvaten) is to raise standing blood pressure in people with chronic orthostatic hypotension.
Stay hydrated by drinking water, and it also helps to increase the blood volume. Alcohol is dehydrating, so avoid alcohol as it can lower blood pressure. Having limits on alcohol can also affect blood pressure, so avoid drinking alcohol.
Body positions are important when you have low blood pressure. So, gently move from a prone position to a standing position. Also, avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
When you experience abnormal symptoms while standing, cross the thighs in a scissors fashion or lean as far forward as possible. These moves will help the blood flow from the legs to the heart.
Eat low-carbohydrate meals to prevent blood pressure from dropping. Eat small portions of meals several times a day. Limit high-carbohydrate foods such as rice, potatoes, pasta, and bread.
Doctor recommends drinking two cups of caffeinated coffee or tea with breakfast. Avoid drinking caffeine throughout the day as it may cause dehydration.
Exercise regularly for 30 to 60 minutes a day as it helps to maintain normal blood pressure.
Last reviewed at:
26 Jul 2021 - 5 min read
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