Recently, a sudden diagnosis of low blood pressure alarmed me. Discussing it with colleagues over lunch, one mentioned, “There is nothing serious about low blood pressure. You should be thankful it isn’t high blood pressure.” This statement got me thinking if that’s really the case. While it is clearly documented as to who will fall under the high blood pressure category, there is no such quantification for low blood pressure. It can vary from individual to individual. Delhi-based Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, an Internal Medicine Doctor at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital clarifies, “Honestly, low blood pressure has immense importance to no importance. An incidental finding of low blood pressure may ideally not be a cause of worry. A lot of young people come to me with a 90/60 BP and I tell them it’s normal, especially when the person walks into my clinic on his own and is normally talking, walking and working. However, there are a lot of doctors who mislead people into believing that they should worry about low blood pressure.”
Having said that, low blood pressure can have alarming causes too. If a person with a history of stroke, cardiac event or an infection reports low blood pressure, it is indeed worrisome. Or if along with low blood pressure, the person is also complaining of vomiting, loose motions, and severe bleeding, it needs to be checked. Dr. Behram S Pardiwala, consultant – medicine, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai central reiterates, “A blood pressure of 90/60 is not really low blood pressure. When a patient is symptomatic with low blood pressure, that’s when we need to look at it seriously. If low blood pressure is impacting vital organs (brain, kidney, liver, heart), then it becomes extremely important to identify the cause for appropriate treatment.”
“I can mostly tell when my patient steps in with low blood pressure. If the nose, toes, fingers are cold or the lips are white, I instantly know they have low BP. I don’t normally worry when the patient walks in reporting low blood pressure but is sitting comfortably, talking normally and walking without any problem,” adds Dr. Pardiwala. Also, if low blood pressure reading persists, it becomes important to find out the cause. Patients are recommended to monitor blood pressure for a couple of days. Sometimes it is also assessed if there was an abnormal cardiac rhythm to rule out an underlying cause. Some patients may also be advised to check for anemia or blood sugar levels. It is notable that there are even some medications that can cause slight lowering of blood pressure such as diuretics and certain anti-depressants.