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:
Also Known As Hypotension
Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, occurs when blood flows through your blood vessels at pressures that are lower than normal. Blood pressure is defined as the force of blood pushing against artery walls as it is pumped by the heart. Low blood pressure is primarily a concern if it produces symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, blurry vision, or fatigue, or if you have a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure can protect you from a host of health issues.
But blood pressure that is too lowdefined as below 90/60 mm Hgcan prevent your organs from getting adequate amounts of the oxygenated blood they need to function properly. Hypotension is of particular concern for vital organs like the brain.
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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 â 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.
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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 .
Tips For Taking Blood Pressure Medication
Untreated high blood pressure can increase your risk of serious health problems. If your doctor prescribes medication to lower your blood pressure, remember:
- If you take blood pressure medication and your blood pressure goes down, it means medication and lifestyle changes are working. If another doctor asks if you have high blood pressure, the answer is, “Yes, but it is being treated.”
- Healthy lifestyle changes may help lower the dosage you need.
- Get up slowly from a seated or lying position and stand for a bit before walking. This lets your blood pressure adjust before walking to prevent lightheadedness and falls.
- Tell your doctor about all the drugs you take. Don’t forget to mention over-the-counter drugs, including vitamins and supplements. They may affect your blood pressure. They also can change how well your blood pressure medication works.
- Blood pressure medication should be taken at the same time each day as part of your daily routine. For example, take it in the morning with breakfast or in the evening before brushing your teeth. If you miss a dose, do not double the dose the next day.
- Remember to refill your medication before you run out and bring it with you when traveling. Its important to keep taking your medication unless your doctor tells you to stop.
- Before having surgery, ask your doctor if you should take your blood pressure medication on the day of your operation.
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What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Low Blood Pressure
In some people, particularly relatively healthy ones, symptoms of weakness, dizziness, and fainting raise the suspicion of low blood pressure. In others, an event often associated with low blood pressure, for example, a heart attack, has occurred to cause the symptoms.
Measuring blood pressure in both the lying and standing positions usually is the first step in diagnosing low blood pressure. In patients with symptomatic low blood pressure, there often is a marked drop in blood pressure upon standing, and patients may even develop orthostatic symptoms. The heart rate often increases. The goal is to identify the cause of the low blood pressure. Sometimes the causes are readily apparent . At other times, the cause may be identified by testing:
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.
Highlights Of The Study
A patient with very elevated systolic blood pressure and low diastolic blood pressure is difficult to treat if one strictly follows the guidelines, as sBP is a clear indication for antihypertensive treatment, but dBP 70 mm Hg is a relative contraindication.
We suggest that an adequate search and analysis ought to be performed to solve this problem.
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Doctors: Beware Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure When Treating Hypertension
- Low diastolic blood pressure linked to heart damage. –
- Physicians, be aware of not dropping the bottom blood pressure number. –
- Overtreated high blood pressure could be dangerous in certain patients. –
The researchers caution that their findings cannot prove that very low diastolic blood pressure a measure of pressure in arteries between heartbeats when the heart is resting and also the lower number in a blood pressure reading directly causes heart damage, only that there appears to be a statistically significant increase in heart damage risk among those with the lowest levels of diastolic blood pressure.
A summary of the findings was published Aug. 30 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and coincides with the release of a similar analysis at the European Society of Cardiology Meeting by physicians from Hôpital Bichat in Paris, France.
Released last fall, the SPRINT trial showed protective cardiovascular benefits to patients when physicians aggressively treated high blood pressure down to 120/80 millimeters of mercury, with a primary emphasis on keeping systolic pressure the top number, representing arterial pressure when the heart is pumping at no more than 120.
Researchers followed the participants for 21 years in a series of five visits, with the last check-in in 2013. Each visit included blood pressure measurement, and several included blood testing.
Which Is More Important Systolic Or Diastolic Blood Pressure
In practice, systolic blood pressure should be regarded as more important than diastolic blood pressure . In general, there is a high correlation between systolic blood pressure and heart health. However, both systolic blood pressure and DBP are important risk factors for heart disease.
- Systolic blood pressure is the force generated on the inside of the blood vessels called the arteries when your heart contracts.
- DBP is pressure placed on your arteries between beats when your heart is relaxed.
According to a recent study, having DBP or systolic blood pressure thats too high is a health risk but for different reasons.
- A high systolic reading increases the risk of heart attacks and heart disease more. Systolic blood pressure is most strongly linked with heart disease and heart failure but also with kidney disease and overall mortality.
- A high diastolic reading was linked with a higher risk of disease of the large artery called the aorta that carries blood from the heart to the abdomen and chest. People with an elevated diastolic reading were more prone to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm . The problem with such an enlargement is that it can lead to sudden rupture and a high risk of death.
Research favored high systolic readings as the most predictive of a harmful cardiovascular outcome. As a result, these readings were given more weight in cardiology guidelines and in estimating risk.
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What Is Systolic Blood Pressure
During a heartbeat, the heart is pushing blood out into the arteries. Doctors call this “systole,” and that’s why it’s called the systolic blood pressure. It’s the pressure during a heartbeat and the highest pressure measured.
When the reading is 120 mmHg or a little below while a person is sitting quietly at rest, the systolic blood pressure is considered normal.
What Is Diastolic Blood Pressure
The heart rests between beats so it can refill with blood. Doctors call this pause between beats “diastole.” Your diastolic blood pressure is the measurement during this pause before the next heartbeat.
A normal diastolic blood pressure during quiet rest is 80 mmHg or a little below. If you have high blood pressure, the diastolic number is often higher even during quiet rest.
Low diastolic pressure may be seen with dehydration or with severe bleeding. It also may happen if the arteries relax and widen.
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Diastolic Blood Pressure: How Low Is Too Low
- May 17, 2015
Blood pressure consists of two numbers. Systolic pressure, the force exerted on blood vessels when the heart beats, is the upper number. Diastolic pressure, the force exerted when the heart is at rest, is on the bottom in more ways than one. Systolic pressure attracts the lions share of attention from physicians and patients, says UAB cardiologist Jason Guichard, M.D., Ph.D.
Physicians are busy people, and like it or not they often focus on a single number, Guichard said. Systolic blood pressure is the focus, and diastolic pressure is almost completely ignored. That is a mistake, he argues. The majority of your arteries feed your organs during systole. But your coronary arteries are different they are surrounding the aortic valve, so they get blood only when the aortic valve closes and that happens in diastole.
Diastolic pressure has been getting more attention lately, however, thanks in part to an influential paper in Hypertension, written in 2011 by Guichard and Ali Ahmed, M.D., then a professor of medicine in UABs Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care and now the associate chief of staff for Health and Aging at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Most people are trying to lower their blood pressure. What would you define as too low, and why is that a problem?
Preventing High Blood Pressure
To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:
Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.
Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.
Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.
Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.
If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.
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Risk Of Injury From Falls
If your blood pressure is low enough, the drop can cause symptoms such as fainting or dizziness.This causes a significant risk of falling since youre not conscious to stop the fall. Additionally, youre not aware of how badly youve injured yourself during a fainting spell. This can lead to serious injuries, such as head trauma from hitting your head.
A Boat Ride Or Waterbed Can Cause Dizziness
Its pretty common to experience a rocky, dizzy feeling on your first day back after a cruise, says Carol Foster, MD, director of the balance laboratory at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. For a few people, this feeling, called mal de debarquement, can last for months or even years, says Dr. Foster. Some 75 percent of all sailors can experience such dizzy spells. Airplanes, cars, and trains can also cause a wobbly-legs feeling. Even relaxing on a waterbed can cause dizziness.
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Should I Be Treated For Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
Most people with low diastolic blood pressure do not display any signs and symptoms and, hence, do not require any treatments. However, for symptomatic people
- Careful examination that includes anemia screening and cardiovascular assessment is required. If they have low blood pressure due to certain medications, a change in the type of medication or dosage is necessary. They need to control alcohol and other addictions.
- Regular exercise is compulsory.
- Some leg exercises are necessary if they get up from prolonged rest.
- The intake of salt and water should be increased but not above 1,500 mg salt a day.
- If the problem still persists, a detailed cardiovascular check with neuroendocrine assessment is required.
- There are certain medications such as fludrocortisone that may be prescribed in certain cases.
When Symptoms Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure Is An Emergency
All the above symptoms of low diastolic blood pressure become an emergency when theyre combined with blood pressure too low. How low is too low? Theres no set number but its typically under 60 mmHg and can vary from one individual to the next. Low blood pressure alone is not an emergency, but if youre having symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.
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What Causes Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
A decrease in your diastolic blood pressure probably represents age-related stiffening of the arteries. Blood vessels get stiff and narrow with age. They do not recoil as they should when the blood column tries to pass through. Therefore, blood pressure shows a low reading on the diastolic scale. This means the heart has to pump blood against increased resistance. The difference between your systolic blood pressure and DBP therefore increases.
Other causes of low DBP are as follows.
- Prolonged bed rest because it causes reduction in tone of the arteries.
- Dehydration due to excess sweating may reduce both systolic and DBP.
- Reduced water intake in old age.
- Loss of water in stools due to medications such as diuretics, prostate medications, antihypertensive medications, medications for Parkinsons disease and narcotics tricyclic antidepressants.
- Alcohol can cause dilation of the blood vessels that may lead to lower DBP, lower heart rate, malfunctioning of the heart valves and heart attack. These are serious disorders that require care and treatment.
- Hormonal deficiencies and other endocrine dysfunctions such as hypothyroid or excess blood loss in menstruation.
- Allergic reactions due to drugs, food or insect bites.
- Nutritional deficiency of B vitamins and iron leading to anemia.
- Prolonged standing that may lead to pooling of blood in the legs.
Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Throughout the day, your blood pressure can vary by between 30-40 mmHg depending on what you are doing. Having a stressful week at work, the temperature outside, and even what you had for lunch could affect your blood pressure reading.
Each time that you have your blood pressure measured, it is important that the test is carried out under similar conditions to ensure that the results are consistent. If you have a low blood pressure reading, your GP will first consider the everyday causes that might have affected it, before considering the possible underlying causes.