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
What Are The Treatments For Low Blood Pressure
The treatments for low blood pressure depend on what caused the condition. Your doctor will work with you to address the cause of the hypotension. In severe cases of hypotension, your doctor may give you IV fluids to raise your blood pressure.
Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age and the type of hypotension, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following: dietary changes, lifestyle changes and/or medications.
To make dietary changes, your doctor might tell you to:
- Stay hydrated by drinking more water throughout the day.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Increase your salt intake slightly because sodium raises blood pressure.
- Eat smaller, healthy meals and limit carbohydrates.
You can take several steps to avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend that you make the following lifestyle changes:
- Wear compression stockings.
- Get up slowly after youve been sitting or lying down.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Sit up and breathe deeply for a few minutes before getting out of bed.
Your doctor might prescribe medications like:
How Is Low Blood Pressure Treated
If your blood pressure is naturally low and isnt causing you any problems it probably wont need any treatment. If you have symptoms and your doctor or nurse feels that you would benefit from treatment, they will try to find the cause of your low blood pressure so that they can find the best way to treat it.
The treatments will vary depending on the cause.
- A change in medications. If your GP thinks that your blood pressure is caused by a medication youre taking they might want to try an alternative medication or a different dose.
- Hormone replacement. If your low blood pressure is caused by a change in certain hormones, for example if your adrenal glands have been damaged, you may be referred to a specialist called an endocrinologist. They might prescribe hormone replacement medication.
- Medicines to stimulate your nerves. If you have a neurological condition, you may be given medicines to stimulate the nerves.
- Medicines for low blood pressure. These medicines narrow your blood vessels or expand the volume of your blood to raise your blood pressure. These are very rarely needed, as the treatments listed above and the changes you can make for yourself are usually enough.
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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.
Get With The Guidelines
In 2017, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other health organizations published revised guidelines for blood pressure.
They were updated âbecause research suggested that you can have complications from high blood pressure at lower levels than previously thought,â says Laura Andromalos, RD, CDE, nutrition program manager at Northwest Weight and Wellness Center in Everett, Washington, and a certified diabetes educator coach in the telehealth setting for Cecelia Health. âPreviously, adults over 65 years old were considered to have high blood pressure at levels over 150/80 mmHg.â
We now know that the ideal of 120/80 lowers the risks for both heart attacks and strokes, according to the American Heart Association. However, each person is unique, so at every age, itâs important to work with your doctor to be sure your numbers fall within a range that is ideal for you and your overall health, Dr. Vaishnava says.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured And What The Readings Mean
Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, with one “over” the other. The first, or top, number is the systolic blood pressure. This indicates the amount of pressure your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries when your heart contracts. The second, or bottom, number is the diastolic pressure, which refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart refills between beats.
Your healthcare provider typically measures your blood pressure using a stethoscope and an inflatable cuff that wraps around your upper arm. The cuff is inflated until it is tight enough to stop the blood from flowing, then it is slowly deflated. Through the stethoscope, your doctor or nurse will hear the whooshing sound of the blood returning this is the systolic pressure. The moment the whooshing sound disappears marks the diastolic pressure.
The commonly accepted ideal blood pressure for adults is 120/80 mm Hg or lower. But since blood pressure naturally rises with age, your BP might be higher than that without any cause for concern. For instance, according to a chart from Disabled World, a normal blood pressure reading for an 80-year-old woman could be 134/84 mm Hg.
So, what is considered low blood pressure in elderly people? Typically, the low blood pressure range is anything below 90/60 mm Hg. This is called hypotension. The Disabled World chart shows that a dangerous blood pressure level is 50/33 mm Hg.
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What Causes Low Blood Pressure
The cause of low blood pressure isn’t always clear. It may be associated with the following:
- Some prescription medicines such as for high blood pressure, depression or Parkinsonâs disease
- Heart failure
- Heart arrhythmias
- Widening, or dilation, of the blood vessels
- Severe dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever
- A reaction to medication or alcohol
- A severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis that causes an irregular heartbeat
Who Gets Postural Hypotension?
Postural hypotension, which is low blood pressure when standing up suddenly, can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, such as dehydration, lack of food, or being overly fatigued. It can also be influenced by genetic make-up, aging, medication, dietary and psychological factors, and acute triggers, such as infection and allergy.
Postural hypotension occurs most frequently in people who are taking drugs to control high blood pressure . It can also be related to pregnancy, strong emotions, hardening of the arteries , or diabetes. The elderly are particularly affected, especially those who have high blood pressure or autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
Hypotension after meals is a common cause of dizziness and falls after eating. This is most common after large meals containing a lot of carbohydrates. Itâs believed to be caused by blood pooling into the vessels of the stomach and intestines.
Common causes of naturally occurring postural hypotension include:
How Can You Prevent Low Blood Pressure
You may be able to prevent hypotension by making changes to your lifestyle and diet, such as:
- Eating fewer carbohydrates and choosing small, healthy meals.
- Staying hydrated and avoiding alcoholic drinks.
- Rising slowly when youve been sitting or lying down.
- Taking a few deep breaths before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
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Blood Pressure Chart: Where Do Your Numbers Fit
High Blood Pressure: Symptoms and Natural Prevention. Healthy and unhealthy blood pressure ranges. Use our blood pressure chart to learn what your blood pressure levels and numbers mean, including normal blood pressure and the difference between understanding your results is key to controlling high blood pressure. How low is too low for blood pressure? Within certain limits, the lower your blood pressure reading is, the better.
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Blood Pressure Vs Heart Rate
Blood pressure and heart rate are both important indications of how well your heart is working, but they measure different things. As noted above, blood pressure is the force of your blood flowing through your arteries. By contrast, heart rate is the number of times your heart beats each minute.
In adults, the heart typically beats 60 to 100 times per minute while at rest. But as with blood pressure, a healthy heart rate will differ between individuals. For instance, a pulse below 60 beats per minute is slower than normal, but it might not cause any issues for you.
However, in some situations, a low pulse means that the heart is not circulating enough blood to satisfy the body’s needs. That can cause you to feel dizzy and weak. A pulse in the 30s is a dangerously low heart rate and should be investigated.
The relationship between blood pressure and heart rate is complex. If you’re concerned about your numbers, see your doctor.
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Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Veins
If blood pressure becomes too high, baroreceptors send signals to the veins instructing them to expand and store more blood and return less blood to the heart. The result is blood flow decreases and blood pressure becomes lower. Conversely, veins can become narrower and return more blood to the heart, which increases blood pressure.
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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Q What Can I Do To Prevent Low Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure: How Low Is Too Low
We all know that high blood pressure is bad for us. But what about low blood pressure?
The question is important because of new blood pressure guidelines.
They say hypertension should be treated in most adults when the systolic is greater than 130. The old recommendations were 140.
A new study has found that some people may be doing themselves more harm than good by lowering their BP too much. They could be setting themselves up for a trip to the emergency room or worse.
Researchers from Kaiser Permanente in California wanted to find out if lowering blood pressure could cause unintended health problems.1
They reviewed the health records of more than 475,000 patients who were on blood pressure medication. The patients mean age was 65.2
During the one-year study period, the researchers noted when a patients systolic blood pressure had dropped below 110 mmHg.
Patients whose blood pressure fell this low had a 50% greater risk of serious falls and fainting.
About 40 million Americans are taking high blood pressure medication.3
The study indicates that almost 12 million of them could be putting themselves at risk of falling or fainting by lowering their blood pressure too much.
Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in people over 65.4 They are also the most common cause of emergency room admissions.
Dr. John Sim is a nephrologist with Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. He was the studys lead author.
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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
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.
How Is Blood Pressure Determined
Several factors influence blood pressure. Blood volume and blood vessel wall behavior are two important determinants of blood pressure. The more blood pumped with each heartbeat, the higher the blood pressure. The presence of stiff or narrow artery walls that resist blood flow also increases blood pressure. Having lower blood volume and open, flexible arteries decreases blood pressure.
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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
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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What Are The Symptoms
Many people with low blood pressure don’t have any symptoms.
Symptoms to watch for include:
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint.
- Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting.
- Feeling more thirsty than usual.
- Having blurry vision.
- Breathing very fast.
If you have symptoms of low blood pressure, especially dizziness or fainting, call your doctor.
Watch for symptoms of low blood pressure. Tell your doctor when the symptoms happen so he or she can treat them.
Measuring Blood Pressure With A Sphygmomanometer
A sphygmomanometer has three parts:
- a cuff that can be inflated with air,
- a pressure meter for measuring air pressure in the cuff, and
- a stethoscope for listening to the sound the blood makes as it flows through the brachial artery .
The scale of the pressure meter ranges from 0 to 300 mmHg. The pressure meter has a rubber pump on it for inflating the cuff and a button for letting the air out.
To measure blood pressure, the cuff is placed around the bare and stretched out upper arm, and inflated until no blood can flow through the brachial artery. Then the air is slowly let out of the cuff.
As soon as the air pressure in the cuff falls below the systolic blood pressure in the brachial artery, blood will start to flow through the arm once again. This creates a pounding sound when the arteries close again and the walls of the vessels hit each other after a heart beat. The sound can be heard by placing the stethoscope close to the elbow. Right when you start to hear this pounding for the first time you can read your systolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.
The pounding sound stops when the air pressure in the cuff falls below the diastolic blood pressure in the brachial artery. Then the blood vessels remain open. Right when the pounding stops, you can read the diastolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.
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