What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing on the artery walls as it is pumped out of the heart. Blood pressure is measured in two kinds of pressures. Systolic pressure is when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic pressure is when the heart is at rest between beats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury . Systolic pressure is listed first , then diastolic pressure .
Normal blood pressure in adults is less than 120/80 mmHg.Low blood pressure is a reading below 90/60 mmHg.
Most forms of hypotension happen because your body can’t bring blood pressure back to normal or can’t do it fast enough.
For some people, low blood pressure is normal. They have it all the time, with no symptoms or negative side effects.
In other people, abnormally low blood pressure is caused by certain medical conditions or factors. When this happens, less blood and oxygen flow to the body’s organs.
What To Do If You Experience A Sudden Drop In Blood Pressure
A single low blood pressure reading is no cause to be concerned unless you experience other symptoms.
A sudden drop in blood pressure as little as a drop from 120 to 100 in your systolic number can be dangerous if it triggers dizziness and fainting. Such symptoms can be a sign of an underlying problem that may need medical attention.
You should keep a record of your activities and when symptoms happen to discuss them with your doctor. If you experience any low blood pressure symptoms related to shock, you should seek immediate medical attention.
What Are The Risk Factors
Syncope is common, but adults over age 80 are at greater risk of hospitalization and death.
Younger people without cardiac disease but who’ve experienced syncope while standing or have specific stress or situational triggers aren’t as likely to experience cardiac syncope.
Cardiac syncope is a higher risk in: people older than age 60 men presence of known heart disease brief palpitations or sudden loss of consciousness fainting during exertion fainting while supine an abnormal cardiac exam or family history of inheritable conditions. Other existing conditions and medications used are particularly important in older patients.
Low Systolic Blood Pressure
Having low blood pressure is usually something everyone strives for. But when your systolic blood pressure gets too low, it can cause dizziness and fainting, and in some cases, can even be life threatening. If youve recently had your blood pressure checked and your systolic number was low, you might be wondering what it means and what you can do about it.
What Is Low Blood Pressure
Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure .
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 . 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.
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Heart Rate And Exercise
In discussions about high blood pressure, you will often see heart rate mentioned in relation to exercise. Your target heart rate is based on age and can help you monitor the intensity of your exercise.
- If you measure your heart rate before, during and after physical activity, youll notice it will increase over the course of the exercise.
- The greater the intensity of the exercise, the more your heart rate will increase.
- When you stop exercising, your heart rate does not immediately return to your normal heart rate.
- The more fit you are, the sooner your heart rate will return to normal.
How Is Low Blood Pressure Treated
If you have an underlying condition, this needs to be treated, or if your medication is lowering your blood pressure, your doctor will discuss options.
Sometimes, if your low blood pressure is causing you to fall a lot and you are at risk, your doctor may refer you to a specialist. They will assess whether you need a medication called fludrocortisone to raise your blood pressure.
Otherwise, follow the self-care guidelines below.
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Is My Blood Pressure Too Low
Most doctors agree that a healthy blood pressure is anything under 120/80 mmHg. But how low is too low for blood pressure? Hypotension can occur when blood pressure drops below 90/60 mmHg.
This isnt a hard and fast rule, though. Since factors, like age, weight, and level of physical activity contribute to blood pressure, your doctor may not diagnose you with hypotension even if your blood pressure is a little low.
Low blood pressure typically becomes an issue only if youre experiencing symptoms, such as:
- Over-the-counter cold medicines
Severe Hypotension Related To Shock
While some of the causes of severe hypotension in shock may also cause orthostatic hypotension, the blood pressure drop is much more severe with the formerand it doesn’t return to normal.
The causes of hypotensive shock include:
- Major blood loss
- Severe fluid loss from diarrhea, burns, or overuse of diuretics
- Cardiogenic shock due heart attack, arrhythmia, or pulmonary embolism
- Vasodilatory shock seen in head injury, liver failure, poisoning, or anaphylaxis.
Shock is a medical emergency and you must call 9-1-1 to get medical help.
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Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Kidneys
Kidneys participate in blood pressure control by regulating urine production. When kidneys pull more water out of 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.
What Other Conditions Cause Low Blood Pressure
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.
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Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
Low blood pressure is pressure so low it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidney, the organs do not function normally and may be temporarily or permanently damaged.
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.
The Future Of Syncope
Standardized national registries and large databases are needed to gather more data to better understand the incidence and prevalence of syncope, patient risks and outcomes, set lifestyle policies and improve healthcare delivery.
Some studies have shown that with recurrent episodes of fainting, the quality of life is reduced in both adults and in pediatric patients, however more well designed studies that incorporates quality of life, work loss and functional capacity are needed. In addition, more studies incorporate quality of life, work loss and functional capacity as possible results and better understand the relationship of syncope symptoms, causes and underlying diseases to various outcomes.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
When Is Low Blood Pressure Too Low Hypotension And More
Some people naturally have low blood pressure, known as hypotension. However, when high blood pressure suddenly becomes low blood pressure, it could be cause for concern.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, may be a sign of good health and of a decreased risk of heart disease. But not always. At times, continually low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure can lead to worrisome symptoms and even serious health problems.
Effective Home Remedies To Treat Low Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is cut out to be a villain, but did you know low blood pressure can be troublesome too? If your blood pressure is below 90/60 mmHg, its considered to be low.1 If blood pressure dips too low, it can reduce the amount of blood that flows to your brain and other organs. This can lead to symptoms like dizziness, fainting, nausea, blurred vision, and palpitations.
Low blood pressure comes in more than one form. For instance, some people experience low blood pressure when they change position for example, when they stand up . You could also experience the symptoms after you have a meal or when you stand for long periods of time .2
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Low Blood Pressure When You Stand Up
Sometimes, changes in your posture can cause your blood pressure to drop, for example, going from sitting or lying down to standing up. You might feel the symptoms listed above when you stand up, such as feeling dizzy or faint. They will pass quickly as your body adjusts, but can put you at risk of falls.
This is called postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Its caused by changes to your arteries which happen as you get older and if youre taking medications to lower your blood pressure.
The animation below provides information on the causes, symptoms and potential interventions related to orthostatic hypotension.
How Does The Body Maintain Normal 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.
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How Can You Raise Low Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is dangerously low, your doctor may give you IV fluids in the emergency room. To avoid sudden drops in blood pressure, your doctor may suggest the following:
- Get up slowly when you’ve been sitting or lying down
- Wear compression stockings
- Avoid standing for a long periods of time
If your low blood pressure is caused by a medical condition, your doctor will work with you to diagnose it and provide treatment.
Low Blood Pressure Also Known As Hypotension Is When You Have A Blood Pressure Level That Is Below The Normal Range
If your blood pressure is naturally low, this probably wont cause you any problems and wont need treating. In fact, the lower your blood pressure, the lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Low blood pressure can sometimes be caused by medications or can be a sign of another health problem. This can sometimes cause problems such as falls, fainting and feeling dizzy, so it might need looking into and treating. Speak to your doctor or nurse if youre worried about low blood pressure.
Plus, take a look at the animation below on how to manage low blood pressure when you stand up.
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Should You Use Herbal Remedies To Treat Low Blood Pressure
Certain herbs like licorice18, arnica 19, guarana20, and Asian ginseng21 have been known to increase blood pressure. However, do keep in mind that these herbs may have significant side effects and may also raise your blood pressure to undesirable levels. High blood pressure, in turn, is associated with serious conditions like heart failure, kidney failure, and stroke. So, on balance, it might not be advisable to use herbal remedies to raise your blood pressure. In case you are considering it, get your doctors go-ahead and have them under the guidance of an expert practitioner.
How To Lower Your Blood Pressure
Enjoy some form of physical activity every day, even if its just walking to the shops. Do at least 150 minutes moderate intensity activity a week. Moderate activity raises your heart rate, makes you breathe faster, feel warmer and break out in a slight sweat. As your bloodpressure goes down you can progress to more vigorous intensity activity, for 75 minutes a week. Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. Aim for 10 portions of 80 g each a day. Cut down on alcohol. Lose weight, if you are overweight. Consult a dietitian or join a slimming club if you need help with this. Quit smoking. Try the National CouncilAgainst Smoking quit line on 011 720 3145. Get enough sleep. Most adults need six to nine hours every night. Take magnesium. A review found that a magnesium supplement daily can help reduce blood pressure. Reduce stress. Try yoga, breathing exercises and meditation. Research shows that breathing deeply and slowly , practised regularly, can help to reduce blood pressure. Your GP may prescribe medication such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers or diuretics.
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Medications May Cause Low Blood Pressure
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 , tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline , and Parkinson’s medications such as levodopa-carbidopa , 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 , calcium channel blockers , beta blockers, and diuretics are some types of blood pressure medications.
Low Diastolic Pressure: No Symptoms
“When your systolic blood pressure gets too low, it can manifest as lightheadedness, fainting, and weakness. But low diastolic pressure by itself doesn’t have any symptoms,” says Dr. Paul Conlin, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of medicine at the VA Boston Healthcare System.
One of the new studies, which analyzed the medical records of more than 11,000 adults over a period of three decades, found that people who had low diastolic blood pressure were twice as likely to have subtle evidence of heart damage compared with people whose diastolic blood pressure was 80 to 89 mm Hg. Low diastolic values were also linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause. The findings appeared in the Aug. 30, 2016, Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Another study, published in The Lancet, involved more than 22,000 people with heart disease, whom researchers grouped according to their blood pressure readings. People with well-controlled blood pressure values were considered the reference group.
Not surprisingly, people with high systolic blood pressure were more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes, be hospitalized with heart failure, or to die compared with people in the reference group. But the same was true for heart attacks, heart failure, and death in people with low blood pressure .
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Does High Blood Pressure Increase Heart Rate
Heart rate and blood pressure do not necessarily increase at the same rate. A rising heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. Even though your heart is beating more times a minute, healthy blood vessels dilate to allow more blood to flow through more easily. When you exercise, your heart speeds up so more blood can reach your muscles. It may be possible for your heart rate to double safely, while your blood pressure may respond by only increasing a modest amount.
What Are The Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
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.
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