- Low blood pressure often referred to as hypotension is blood pressure low enough that the flow of blood to the organs of the body is inadequate and symptoms and/or signs of low blood flow develop.
- This means the heart, brain, and other parts of the body do not get enough blood. Normal blood pressure is mostly between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg.
- Low pressure occurs in alone, without symptoms or signs, usually is not unhealthy.
Is low blood pressure dangerous?
However, people with lower blood pressures have a lower risk of stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Low blood pressure occurs in athletes, people who exercise regularly, people who maintain ideal body weight, and non-smokers. Low blood pressure is desirable as long as it is not low enough to cause symptoms and damage to the organs in the body.
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What is low blood pressure actually?
Let’s understand the biological functioning of blood pressure right. It is the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. It constitutes one of the critically important signs of life or vital signs, which include heart rate, breathing, and temperature.
- The systolic blood pressure (the top number) represents the pressure in the arteries as the muscle of the heart contracts and pumps blood into them.
- The diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) represents the pressure in the arteries as the muscle of the heart relaxes following its contraction.
Blood pressure always is higher when the heart is pumping (squeezing) than when it is relaxing.
The range of systolic blood pressure for most healthy adults falls between 90 and 120 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). Normal diastolic blood pressure ranges between 60- and 80-mm Hg. Current guidelines define normal blood pressure range as lower than 120/80. Blood pressures over 130/80 are considered high. High blood pressure increases the risk of damaging the arteries, which leads to the development of:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis)
- Eye damage
Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure is defined primarily by signs and symptoms of low blood flow and not by a specific blood pressure number. Some individuals routinely may have blood pressure numbers of 90/50 with no symptoms and therefore do not have low blood pressure.
However, others who normally have higher blood pressures may develop symptoms of low blood pressure if their blood pressure drops to 100/60.
During pregnancy, blood pressure tends to decrease. Normal blood pressure during pregnancy may be lower than 100/60. The body’s OB/GYN should be able to monitor your blood pressure if you are pregnant.
Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
Symptoms of low blood pressure or hypotension may include:
- Fainting (syncope)
- A feeling of light-headedness
- Chest pain
- Blurred vision
- Increased thirst
- The symptoms of low blood pressure include light-headedness, dizziness, and fainting. These symptoms are most prominent when individuals go from the lying or sitting position to the standing position (orthostatic hypotension).
- Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate flow of blood to the body’s organs can cause strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. The most severe form is shocking.
- Common causes of low blood pressure include a reduced volume of blood, heart disease, and medications.
- The cause of low blood pressure can be determined with blood tests, radiologic studies, and cardiac testing to look for heart failure and arrhythmias.
- Treatment of low blood pressure is determined by the cause of low pressure.
Low Blood Pressure Causes
Blood pressure varies from one person to another. A drop as little as 20 mmHg, can cause problems for some people. There are different types and causes of low blood pressure.
Severe hypotension can be caused by a sudden loss of blood (shock), severe infection, heart attack, or severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If this type of low blood pressure occurs after eating, it is called postprandial orthostatic hypotension. This type most often affects older adults, those with high blood pressure, and people with Parkinson disease. Certain medicines and substances can lead to low blood pressure, including:
- Anti-anxiety medicines
- Certain antidepressants
- Heart medicines, including those used to treat high blood pressure and coronary heart disease
- Medicines used for surgery
Other causes of low blood pressure include:
- Nerve damage from diabetes
- Changes in heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
- Not drinking enough fluids (dehydration)
- Heart failure
Low Blood Pressure Diagnosis
Besides taking the medical history of the patient, it is easier to determine to do a physical exam and measuring the blood pressure, the doctor might recommend the following:
- Blood tests.
The test results provide information about overall health plus indicate low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). With this, the test throws light on high blood sugar (hyperglycemia or diabetes) or a low red blood cell count (anaemia), all of which can cause lower than normal blood pressure.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG).
This test is painless, noninvasive test, soft, sticky patches (electrodes) are attached to the skin of your chest, arms and legs. The patches detect the heart’s electrical signals while a machine records them on graph paper or displays them on a screen.
An ECG, which can be performed in the doctor’s office, detects irregularities of the heart’s rhythm, heart’s structural abnormalities. It also detects problems with the supply of blood and oxygen to your heart muscle. Further, It can also tell if you’re having a heart attack or have had one in the past.
This non-invasive exam, which includes an ultrasound of your chest, shows detailed images of your heart’s structure and function.
- Stress test.
Some heart problems that can cause low blood pressure are easier to diagnose when your heart is working harder than when it’s at rest. During a stress test, you’ll walk on a treadmill or do some other form of exercise. You might be given medication to make your heart work harder if you’re unable to exercise.
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Low Blood Pressure Treatment
Low blood pressure that either doesn’t cause signs or symptoms or causes only mild symptoms rarely requires treatment.
If you have symptoms, treatment depends on the underlying cause. For instance, when low blood pressure is caused by medications, treatment usually involves changing or stopping the medication or lowering the dose.
If it’s not clear what’s causing low blood pressure or no treatment exists, the goal is to raise your blood pressure and reduce signs and symptoms. Depending on your age, health and the type of low blood pressure you have, you can do this in several ways:
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- Use more salt. Experts usually recommend limiting salt in your diet because sodium can raise blood pressure, sometimes dramatically. For people with low blood pressure, that can be a good thing.
- But because excess sodium can lead to heart failure, especially in older adults, it’s important to check with your doctor before increasing the salt in your diet.
- Drink more water. Fluids increase blood volume and help prevent dehydration, both of which are important in treating hypotension.
- Wear compression stockings. The elastic stockings commonly used to relieve the pain and swelling of varicose veins can help reduce the pooling of blood in your legs.
- Medications. Several medications can be used to treat low blood pressure that occurs when you stand up (orthostatic hypotension). For example, the drug fludrocortisone, which boosts your blood volume, is often used to treat this form of low blood pressure.
- Doctors often use the drug midodrine (Orvaten) to raise standing blood pressure levels in people with chronic orthostatic hypotension. It works by restricting the ability of your blood vessels to expand, which raises blood pressure.