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How Do I Know If I Have Low Blood Pressure

Recognize The Signs Of High Blood Pressure

What can I do to help my low blood pressure while pregnant?

It is possible to have high blood pressure for years without having any symptoms. In fact, hypertension is often considered to be a symptomless silent killer.

However, not having symptoms doesnt mean that no damage is being done to your blood vessels and your heart. High blood pressure related conditions are the leading cause of death and diseases in industrialized countries.

There are several symptoms that may be indirectly linked to high blood pressure. Here they are:

Signs of high blood pressure

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Objective Signs Of Low Blood Pressure / Hypotension

The best objective symptom of a low blood pressure is taking an actual pressure and getting low numbers. It sounds obvious, but it may not occur to you to take a pressure when a patient complains of certain symptoms.

When a patient does complain, however, it is usually recommended that you get a complete set of vitals, and this will point to a problem with low blood pressure. How low is too low? What does low actually mean? It can mean different things for different patients.

The usual metric for measuring low blood pressure is that anything below 90/60 mmHg is considered low enough to treat. You can also have symptoms of low blood pressure when someone with hypertension comes down from very high pressures. For instance, 120/80 mmHg may be normal for everyone else, but if your patient lives at 190/100 mmHg, they are going to feel the difference. For this reason, the objective sign of a pressure must be combined with the subjective symptoms the patient reports.

About Low Blood Pressure

The heart pumps a constant supply of blood around the body. The blood flows through different networks in the body, for example, arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the blood on the walls of the arteries as the blood flows through them.

It’s measured in millimetres of mercury and recorded as two measurements:

  • systolic pressure the pressure when your heart beats and squeezes blood into your arteries
  • diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats

For example, if your systolic blood pressure is 120mmHg and your diastolic blood pressure is 80mmHg, your blood pressure is 120 over 80, which is commonly written as 120/80.

Normal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 140/90. If you have a sustained reading of 140/90 or more, you have high blood pressure . This puts you at greater risk of developing serious health conditions, such as heart attack or stroke.

People with a blood pressure reading under 90/60 are usually regarded as having low blood pressure.

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What Does Low Blood Pressure Feel Like

The heart is a very strong pump which pumps the blood to all around the body through blood vessels. The blood exerts a force on the vessel wall, and blood pressure is a measure of this force. The normal range of blood pressure is between 90/60 mmHg to 140/90 mmHg. When the blood pressure falls below 90/60 mmHg, it is regarded as low blood pressure.

How To Raise Low Blood Pressure

Hypertension High Bloodpressure

If youre dealing with hypotension, the first step is making an appointment with your doctor. After discussing your medical history, lifestyle, and other factors, your doctor may change your medication or suggest certain lifestyle changes to get to the root of the issue.

Its important not to stop taking any medications or change dosages without talking to a healthcare professional first. The same is true of dietary or other changes.

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What Can I Do For Myself

There are other things you can do for yourself to help with your symptoms.

  • Wear supportive elastic stockings . They put extra pressure on your legs which helps to improve circulation and raise your blood pressure. For some people this can be enough, but speak to your GP first because they arent suitable for everyone.
  • Stand up slowly from sitting or lying down. You can try other simple movements to get the blood flowing before you stand up, such as straightening and bending your legs.
  • Avoid standing for long periods of time.
  • Drink enough water throughout the day, around 2 litres, so you dont get dehydrated.
  • Eat little and often throughout the day. This avoids low blood pressure after eating.

Read more about how .

Q What Can Cause Low Blood Pressure

  • Your blood pressure can vary throughout the day. It depends on your body position, breathing patterns, stress levels, physical activities, medications, what you eat or drink, and the time. Some of the main medical conditions that can cause low blood pressure are:
    • Pregnancy
    • Nutrition deficiency in the diet
    • Certain antidepressants

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    How Does High Blood Pressure Affect You

    Know the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure, to understand how to know if your blood pressure is high. High blood pressure can affect every person in a slightly different manner and being a silent killer, is difficult to spot it.

    Sometimes, people having high blood pressure may experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nose bleeds, blurring of vision or difficulty in normal vision, overall discomfort, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

    While these symptoms are also commonly noticed in other conditions, it is worth checking your blood pressure if you experience these symptoms to know if your blood pressure is high. Also, these symptoms may not be necessarily experienced in the initial period and is mostly noticed after much damage is caused.

    Hence, it is better to seek medical advice, if you experience these symptoms. Regular monitoring can help you to know if your blood pressure is high.

    Medication Used To Treat Low Blood Pressure

    3 Ways to Tell if You Have High Blood Pressure Symptoms

    In cases of more severe or recurrent symptoms of low blood pressure, doctors may prescribe drugs to stabilize the system. These may include:

    Fludrocortisone: It is a steroid that is prescribed when the body is unable to produce enough by itself, and is often prescribed in conjunction with other steroids such as hydrocortisone. It reduces inflammation in the body and causes the body to retain more sodium. It may cause some water retention, but this is not a cause for concern since it is necessary to build blood pressure. To maintain the sodium-potassium balance, a doctor might recommend consumption of potassium-rich foods such as apricot, bananas, spinach and broccoli while on this prescription. Once the effects of low blood pressure are no longer witnessed, you may be asked to discontinue the steroid, while maintaining lifestyle and diet changes.

    Midodrine: A counter to blood vessel dilation, midodrine is a what is called a vasopressor and constricts small blood vessels to increase blood pressure. It is usually prescribed in cases of postural hypotension and the dosage is gradually increased over time to prevent side effects.

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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.

    During pregnancy, blood pressure tends to decrease. Normal blood pressure during pregnancy may be lower than 100/60. Your OB/GYN or Midwife should monitor your bood pressure if you are pregnant.

    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 youve been sitting or lying down.
    • Focusing on breathing a few times before you change position.
    • Wearing compression stockings.

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    When You Should Not Stop Medication

    If your high blood pressure is due to non-modifiable factors like family history or variable ones , you may not be able to stop taking your medication.

    This is especially true for older adults, as age is an independent risk factor for hypertension and tends to be associated with greater complexities in managing chronic illness.

    How Does Blood Pressure Work

    Get to Know Your Blood Pressure

    During relaxation of the heart , the left ventricle of the heart fills with blood returning from the lungs. The left ventricle then contracts and pumps blood into the arteries . The blood pressure in the arteries during contraction of the ventricle is higher because blood is being actively ejected into the arteries. It is lower during relaxation of the ventricle when no blood is being ejected into the arteries. The pulse we feel when we place our fingers over an artery is caused by the contraction of the left ventricle and the ejection of blood.

    Blood pressure is determined by two factors:

  • The amount of blood pumped by the left ventricle of the heart into the arteries, and
  • The resistance to the flow of blood caused by the walls of the arterioles .
  • Generally, blood pressure tends to be higher if more blood is pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are narrow and/or stiff. Narrow and/or stiff arterioles, by resisting the flow of blood, increase blood pressure. Arterioles may become narrower when the muscles surrounding them contract. Arterioles may become stiff and narrow when older patients develop atherosclerosis.

    Blood pressure tends to be lower if less blood is being pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are larger and more flexible and, therefore, have less resistance to the flow of blood.

    The heart rate increases and the forcefulness of the heart’s contractions increase, pumping more blood through the heart.

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    High Blood Pressure Often Has No Symptoms If Left Untreated It Can Cause Health Conditions Such As Heart Disease And Stroke

    Blood pressure is usually defined as the pressure used by the heart to pump the blood as it circulates in the body. Blood pressure is measured using the systolic and diastolic readings. Known as the silent killer, blood pressure can lead to heart strokes and other health problems if not taken care. An optimal blood pressure reading should be 120/80 mmHg.

    Dr. Ajay Agarwal, director, department of internal medicine, Fortis Hospital, Noida tells the symptoms of high and low blood pressure and also suggests what patients should do in each case.

    High Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure often has no symptoms. Over time, if left untreated, it can cause health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Hypertensive urgency is a condition when the BP is more than 190/100 this needs immediate attention and reduction by 25 per cent in the next six hours.

    On the other hand, hypertensive emergency is a condition where BP is around 200/110 or more with end organ damage that is presenting as stroke, heart attack , kidney failure and in this scenario immediate admission and IV antihypertensives are used.

    Risk of High Blood Pressure

    It is extremely important is to get regular health check up done to avoid late detection of hypertension, as early detection and commencement of treatment prevents complications.

    Prevention of High Blood Pressure

    *Sleep: Eight hours of good sleep is a must for every adult.

    Low Blood Pressure

    Diet And Nutrition For Low Blood Pressure

    A balanced meal with complex carbohydrates, fish, lean meat, fruits and cooked vegetables goes a long way in preventing hypotension. Changing meal patterns to make them more frequent and less heavy prevent as well as address postprandial fatigue and hypotension.

    On diagnosis of a dip in BP, a low blood pressure diet that supplies adequate sodium, and potassium while maintaining blood sugar levels is generally recommended for patients.Increased consumption of non-alcoholic beverages helps maintain adequate hydration and is recommended. Increasing salt quantities or addition of soy sauce in everyday cooking is a simple change that combats effects of low blood pressure and may be suggested by your doctor.

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    How Often Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure doesnt always cause symptoms, so its important to get your blood pressure checked. Recent guidelines recommend that all adults age 40 and older check their blood pressure at least once per year. Younger adults can check it every three to five years, or every year if they are at higher risk.

    If you already have high blood pressure, you will need to check your blood pressure more frequently especially when you are starting or adjusting medications. Once your blood pressure stabilizes with treatment, you usually wont need to check it as often. Regular monitoring is still important, though, because your blood pressure can change over time, even when youre taking medications.

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    If you are over the age of 40, the health body says you should be getting it checked every five years. As many as five million adults in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure, so will not know that they are at risk, according to the British Heart Foundation. The NHS says: Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.

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    Are Certain People More Likely To Have Low Blood Pressure

    Some people, especially if you have diabetes, are at a higher risk of your blood pressure temporarily dropping after eating or when getting up from a chair or from lying down in bed, for example. The former is whats called postprandial hypotension and the latter is orthostatic hypotension. Normally, when you’re digesting food, or when you change your body position from sitting to standing, your cardiovascular system adapts by beating harder as well as more rapidly, and constricting the diameter of certain blood vessels, such as those far from your intestine where digestion occurs. These physiological changes all collaborate to maintain your blood pressure. But, if these changes do not occur fast or adequately enough, your blood pressure can drop, sometimes to dangerous levels.

    What Are Treatments For Low Blood Pressure

    According to Dr. Laffin, If you’re underweight, working to healthfully increase your weight and muscle mass will help to increase your blood pressure.

    Dr. Laffin also recommends the following:

    • Hydrate often to prevent dehydration. When youre dehydrated, your blood volume drops and, as a result, so does your blood pressure. Drinking adequate fluids increases the volume of your blood. Remember to drink before youre thirsty, which is often a sign that you’re already dehydrated.
    • Eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones. This prevents too much blood flowing to your gut to aid in digestion.
    • Get up from a seated or lying position gradually rather than bolting upright.
    • Take blood pressure lowering medications at night. Most BP medications last 24-hours, but the peak effect occurs two to three hours after we take them. If taken at night, this will be while youre sleeping and help you to avoid your blood pressure getting too low while you’re awake.
    • Avoid very hot showers or visiting saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms. They dilate blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure

    Low blood pressure often has no symptoms, but can sometimes mean that not enough blood is flowing to your brain or organs. This can cause symptoms such as:

    • feeling dizzy, faint or light-headed
    • feeling unsteady
    • suddenly noticing your heartbeat
    • fainting

    If you have these symptoms, stop what youre doing and sit down or lie down in case you fall, and drink some water.

    Speak to your doctor or nurse if you experience these symptoms. As well as being unpleasant, they could mean youre at risk of having a fall. They could also be a sign of another health problem.

    Subjective Signs Of Low Blood Pressure/hypotension

    How High Blood Affects Your Body

    Subjective symptoms are those that the patient may report, though you may be able to see objective signs of these as well.

    With low blood pressure, the patient may feel faint or lose consciousness. This is due to lack of blood flow to the brain, and usually laying the patient supine will help raise blood pressure and reduce symptoms. This could be accompanied by a dizzy feeling and light-headedness. Generally, your patient will report trouble focusing, difficulty keeping upright and lack of coordination .

    Your patient may also report nausea and could possibly vomit from the low blood pressure. In addition, heart palpitations are sometimes felt, and these can be easily seen with the use of telemetry or other monitoring. EKGs/ECGs may or may not show them, depending on the frequency and timing of the palpitations.

    Some patients may also exhibit confusion, and this can make them seem like they are suffering from intoxication or some other neurological problem. Blurred vision is usually reported with extreme cases of low blood pressure. There are many other symptoms of low blood pressure to look out for.

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