What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measure of how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body. Your body is designed to adjust your blood pressure to make sure your organs and tissue receive enough oxygen.
Blood pressure is indicated by two numbers formatted as a fraction, like 120/80. The systolic number indicates how hard your blood pushes when your heart pumps, and the diastolic number measures how hard your blood pushes between heartbeats when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
Will Your Doctor Treat Low Blood Pressure
You will likely get treated for low blood pressure only if it is causing symptoms or if your blood pressure drops suddenly. Treatment depends on your symptoms, how severe they are, and the reasons for the low blood pressure.
Your doctor may have you:
- Add more salt to your diet.
- Get fluid through an intravenous line if you are very dehydrated.
- Change or stop medicines that lower your blood pressure.
- Take medicine to treat the problem that is causing low blood pressure. For example, you may need antibiotics to treat infection or medicines to stop vomiting or diarrhea.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before you add more salt to your diet or make any changes in your medicines.
How Can I Monitor My Blood Pressure At Home
Monitoring your blood pressure at home is a great way to stay on top of your blood pressure readings. This way, you can get treatment or make adjustments in your treatment early, and this can prevent complications from high blood pressure over time.
You can buy an automated home blood pressure cuff online, without a prescription, or at local stores and pharmacies. Some insurance companies may also pay for a home cuff as long as you have a prescription or order from your healthcare provider.
Some people always have high blood pressure in a providers office, but normal blood pressure at home. This is called white coat hypertension. Monitoring your blood pressure at home can help sort this out.
Home blood pressure monitoring is also recommended as part of your diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure, according to current guidelines. Its a great way to get more information about how your blood pressure changes over time. Sharing your home readings with your healthcare provider can help inform a treatment plan.
When you take your blood pressure, there are a few key points to keep in mind to get an accurate reading:
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Diagnosing Low Blood Pressure
Diagnosis is crucial whether your low blood pressure is an emergency with symptoms or theres low blood pressure alone. The doctor will try to determine the underlying cause of the low blood pressure.
If an underlying condition is determined, then that condition will be addressed which should correct the low blood pressure. To help with your diagnosis, its always good to keep track of any symptoms, activities at the time and a record of your blood pressure at home .
The doctor may do the following when making a diagnosis:
Treatment Of Sudden Severe Hypotension
Serious conditions that cause a sudden drop in blood pressure need urgent medical treatment in hospital. Treatment will depend on the cause, but will often include measures to raise blood pressure. Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, these may include:
- fluids given via a drip into a vein
- a blood transfusion or
- medicines to elevate blood pressure.
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Symptoms And Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Many different conditions and situations can cause low blood pressure, from standing up too fast to being pregnant. Sometimes, low blood pressure is linked to an underlying problem. Thats why its important to see your doctor right away if you experience the signs of low blood pressure.
Symptoms of low blood pressure can include:
Low blood pressure can be a sign of serious heart, endocrine or neurological conditions. If left untreated, the brain and other vital organs do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need. In extreme cases, this can cause shock, a life-threatening condition.
If you show signs of low blood pressure, your doctor will conduct an exam and may perform tests to determine whats causing the condition. Low blood pressure can occur with many other conditions.
Some causes of low blood pressure are:
How Is Low Blood Pressure Diagnosed
Like high blood pressure, low blood pressure can be diagnosed easily with a .
If you feel dizzy or faint when you stand up, you might need to have your blood pressure measured when youre lying down and again while you are standing up.
You might be offered a tilt table test. This is where you lie on a table that starts in a horizontal position, then slowly tilts so that youre in an almost upright position as if you were standing. You will have your blood pressure and pulse monitored, and any symptoms you feel will be recorded. You might also have a blood test to check the levels of certain hormones.
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Cause: Standing For Long Periods
After you’re on your feet for a while, blood can start to pool in your legs. If your brain doesn’t tell your heart to pump enough to keep your blood pressure up, it might drop low enough to make you dizzy and nauseous. You might even pass out. Your doctor might call this “neurally mediated hypotension.” Like a bad relationship, the problem is poor communication, in this case, between the heart and brain.
Low Blood Pressure Definition And Facts
- Low blood pressure, also called 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.
- Low pressure alone, without symptoms or signs, usually is not unhealthy.
- The symptoms of low blood pressure include lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. These symptoms are most prominent when individuals go from the lying or sitting position to the standing position .
- 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 shock.
- 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 the low pressure.
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When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency
Many people have low blood pressure and typically its not an emergency. They dont have any other symptoms and their low readings are normal. For those people its good to let your doctor know what is going on but its not considered a problem.
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Some people might get a sudden decrease in their blood pressure, and its the result of a medical condition or medicine. Sometimes the sudden drop in blood pressure is accompanied with one of the symptoms above like dizziness, fainting or signs of shock.
If this happens, its considered an emergency and 911 should be called . If youre going into shock, its considered a severe situation, dont wait hoping things will return to normal.
Shock is when your organs and tissues are not getting enough blood and oxygen. This can cause damage to the tissues and cells in your body. Shock can be a life threatening condition and why 911 should be called right away.
There are different kinds of shock which can be caused by any of the following:
- Loss of blood or fluids
- Internal or external bleeding
- The heart cant pump blood effectively
- Damage to the nervous system
Emergency low BP is just one of ten topics discussed in my article, The Low Blood Pressure Range Everything You Need To Know. Find out the causes, symptoms, treatments and more.
How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
Theres only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
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If You Notice A Sudden Decline In Blood Pressure
A single lower-than-normal reading is not cause for alarm, unless you are experiencing any other symptoms or problems. If you experience any dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea or other symptoms, its a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider. To help with your diagnosis, keep a record of your symptoms and activities at the time they occurred.
Is low blood pressure related to low heart rate? Find out.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Last Reviewed: Oct 31, 2016
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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Serious Injuries And Shock
Low blood pressure can also be caused by serious injuries or burns, particularly if you have lost a lot of blood. This can mean that there is less blood being pumped around your body. Low blood pressure can also occur if you go into shock after having a serious injury.
Other kinds of shock are described below.
Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, is caused by an allergic reaction to something – for example, a wasp sting or a peanut. During an allergic reaction, your body produces a large amount of a chemical called histamine, which causes your blood vessels to widen and leads to a sudden, severe drop in blood pressure.
Cardiogenic shock occurs when your heart cannot supply enough blood to your body, so your blood pressure drops. This can happen during a heart attack.
Foods To Raise Blood Pressure
It is important to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables to improve the state of your blood pressure. These foods contain beneficial nutrients and vitamins, but also help to keep you hydrated. If your blood pressure has dropped due to an iron deficiency such as anemia you should increase your intake of lean red meats and legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans.
Ginger is a great ally in improving hypotension as it favors blood circulation. Take a piece of fresh ginger, grate it and place it in a little water. Let simmer for a few minutes and the drink it. If you suffer from low blood pressure you can take this remedy twice daily. You can also have it included in different dishes to make raising your blood pressure tasty as well as effective.
While too much sodium will have a detrimental effect on your blood pressure, it can help raise it when low. Eating salty snacks such as peanuts or chips can help give you a quick spike in blood pressure levels. One home remedy for raising low blood pressure is to drink an isotonic drink which will help raise your sodium levels with healthy salts. However, be careful not to drink too much of them or it can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
Go to the doctor to find the underlying cause especially if you also have the following symptoms:
- You have hadseveral low blood pressure readings during medical analysis
- You often feel nausea and lightheadedness
- You feel dizzy or have had frequent vertigo
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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.
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.
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Treatments For Low Blood Pressure
If you have low blood pressure that is not an emergency, there may not be any treatment. Your doctor may continue to monitor you and have you do the same at home. But if there are symptoms in addition to your low blood pressure, there will likely be some form of treatment depending on your underlying cause.
Depending on your symptoms, low blood pressure and age, the treatments will vary and can include the following :
Add more sodium to your diet: Typically, under average conditions doctors would like you to reduce sodium because it can raise blood pressure. But for people who have low blood pressure, this may be a good thing.
Unfortunately, this doesnt mean you binge on high salt food and eat anything in sight. Your doctor will have you raise your sodium intake in healthier ways.
Increase your amount of fluids with more water: Adding fluids will increase your blood volume, prevent dehydration and can raise your blood pressure.
Start to wear compression stockings: These stockings are normally worn on your legs below the knee. They are used to help relieve pain and pressure associated with varicose veins. For low blood pressure, they can help prevent pooling of blood in your lower legs and move the blood elsewhere.
Prescribed medications: Several medications can be used to raise blood pressure. The following are 2 of the most common low blood pressure medications:
How Can You Prevent Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
If you have orthostatic hypotension, your doctor may suggest that you try some simple ways to prevent symptoms like dizziness. For example, you can:
- Stand up slowly.
- Drink little or no alcohol.
- Limit or avoid caffeine.
- Wear compression stockings.
If you feel dizzy or light-headed, sit down or lie down for a few minutes. Or you can sit down and put your head between your knees. This will help your blood pressure go back to normal and help your symptoms go away.
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When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency: Call 911
The majority of talk involving blood pressure typically centers around the topic of high blood pressure. High blood pressure effects more people but low blood pressure can be just as important. Most of the time low blood pressure is not a problem, and its even desirable. But there are times when low blood pressure is an emergency.
When is low blood pressure an emergency? Low blood pressure is an emergency when the BP number is too low and there are the following symptoms:
- Pale skin
- Clammy skin
This blog post will cover in more detail what to do in an emergency and mistakes people make when their blood pressure falls suddenly. Ill also tell you how to avoid low pressure, the symptoms and treatments. Low blood pressure is an important topic and must be taken seriously because the consequences to your body can be severe.
Low BP Tip: Home monitoring is just as important with low blood pressure as high BP! If you dont have a home blood pressure monitor, check out the current price on Amazon for the monitor I recommend, Welch Allyn Home 1700 Series Blood Pressure.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.
Q What Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
- Nutrition deficiency in the diet
- Certain antidepressants
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