Postural Or Orthostatic Hypotension
Postural or orthostatic hypotension occurs when your blood pressure falls after a sudden movement. For example, you may feel dizzy or faint after changing posture, such as sitting up from a lying position, or standing up from a sitting position. This may cause you to lose your balance and fall over. You may also feel light-headed, have blurred vision, or lose consciousness.
The symptoms of postural or orthostatic hypotension should only last a few minutes as your blood pressure adjusts to your new position. This type of low blood pressure tends to affect people more as they get older when it can lead to more frequent falls. Similar symptoms may also occur after exercise.
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.
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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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 Does It Mean To Have Low Blood Pressure
Generally, low blood pressure or hypotension means that your blood pressure falls under 90 mm Hg systolic and 60 mm Hg diastolic. However, this should be assessed on an individual basis.
Some people have low blood pressure with no health problems, while others could have an underlying condition in need of treatment, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . Other factors that can lead to high blood pressure include:
- Certain medications for anxiety, depression, pain, or surgery
- Conditions like diabetes, heart failure, or an abnormal heart rhythm
If you or someone else has low blood pressure and passes out, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately. Dangerous dips in blood pressure deprive organs of oxygen and can lead to shock, a medical emergency.
If you have symptoms such as black stools, dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain, shortness of breath, or a fever above 101°F , call your doctor ASAP, according to MedlinePlus.
Treatment for low blood pressure involves addressing the root cause such as taking medication for an underlying condition or adjusting your current treatment plan to avoid this side effect, says Dr. Wong.
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What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is measured with two key metrics: a top number called systolic blood pressure and a bottom number called diastolic blood pressure.
For example, a blood pressure of 120 systolic and 80 diastolic reads as “120 over 80” or “120/80 mm Hg” in doctor-speak , according to the American Heart Association .
“Systolic blood pressure is the peak pressure during a heartbeat while the heart is ‘squeezing,’ and diastolic blood pressure is the lowest pressure between two heartbeats while the heart is ‘relaxed,'” Jennifer Wong, MD, a cardiologist and medical director of non-invasive cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA, tells Health.
Do You Know The 10 Alarming Signs Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is now a very common condition amongst adults. According to a new report, nearly half of the American population have high blood pressure.
If you suffer from high blood pressure or Hypertension, you may eventually develop other health problems like heart disease, and increase your risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke.
Annually in the US, there are 610,000 deaths from heart attacks, and nearly 800,000 people suffer from strokes. And those numbers are growing. Knowing that high blood pressure is the major preventable factor, why do we have such high numbers??
Can you recognize the signs of high blood pressure?
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How To Use An Automated Blood Pressure Machine
The easiest way to take your own blood pressure is to purchase an automated cuff. Automatic blood pressure machines are the easiest to use, and theyre helpful if you have any hearing impairments.
These types of blood pressure cuffs have a digital monitor that will display your blood pressure reading on a screen. You can purchase these online, at most grocery stores, or at a health food store.
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, upper arm blood pressure monitor for at-home use. To use your digital blood pressure monitor, follow the instructions that come with it. You can also take the monitor to your doctors office, or even your local pharmacy, for a demonstration.
You should also purchase a small notebook to start a blood pressure log. This can be helpful for your doctor. You can a free blood pressure log from the AHA.
Machines can give you a different reading than a manual blood pressure reading. Bring your cuff to your next doctors appointment so you can compare the reading from your cuff to the reading your doctor takes. This can help you calibrate your machine and identify levels you should look for on your own device.
Its also important to purchase a high-quality machine and monitor for errors. Even if you check your blood pressure at home, your doctor will still want to manually check it during appointments.
Recognize The Signs Of High Blood Pressure
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
Diagnosis Of Low Blood Pressure
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Theyll measure your blood pressure using either an automated digital device or a manual device. To find out more about how blood pressure is measured, see our animation at the top of this page, Having your blood pressure taken, in the introduction above.
If you have symptoms of postural hypotension , your GP may also measure the change in your blood pressure while youre sitting and then standing. If its much lower when you stand up compared with when youre sitting down, this suggests you have postural hypotension.
Your GP may also recommend that you have some blood tests to check your general health and an electrocardiogram to check the electrical activity of your heart. They may also ask you to have an echocardiogram if they need to check for any underlying problems affecting your heart.
If your symptoms need further investigation, your doctor may recommend that you have a tilt test. The test involves being slowly tilted from lying down to an upright position on a table as your blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm are monitored. For more information, see our FAQ: What happens in a tilt test? below.
How To Treat High Blood Pressure Without Medication
The first thing you should do if you have high blood pressure is to change your lifestyle. This is a condition that is caused by what you eat, what you drink, and how you treat you body in general.
Why not take medication to normalize your blood pressure? Well, you can. It will lower your blood pressure significantly and reduce your risks of heart attack and stroke.
Although, the negative side effects of blood pressure-reducing medications should not be ignored! Chronic cough, erectile dysfunction, dizziness, digestive problems, chronic fatigue, headaches, nauseaSounds like fun!
All you need to do is stop doing what has been causing your blood pressure to be so high. This way you wont need the medication! To do so, youll need to:
- Eat a healthy, potassium-rich diet*
- Dont eat salt
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Learn how to relax and control your stress
*The healthy diet recommended to people with high blood pressure is the DASH diet. The Dash diet isnt bad compared to the standard American diet, but its not the best. Instead, I recommend following my heart health diet program, it is only one month and it will lower your blood pressure.
The DASH diet recommends to eat more fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, but just a reduction in meat. Why? We know that animal products are linked to higher blood pressure. In fact, the more dairy you eat, the higher your blood pressure is.
It is the standard American diet that is causing your blood pressure to be so high.
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Q What Can I Do To Prevent Low Blood Pressure
Foods For High Blood Pressure
If you are eating a whole foods plant-based diet and are still struggling with high blood pressure, there are certain foods you can incorporate into your diet.
A few tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day has been shown to greatly reduce blood pressure. In this study, flaxseed was found to be 2 to 3 times more powerful than an exercise program.
Hibiscus tea also seems to be effective at reducing blood pressure. Although, more research is needed.
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Living With Low Blood Pressure
Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure. Your doctor can recommend steps you can take to manage your low blood pressure. These actions can help control the condition:
Drink more water. This can help avoid dehydration.
Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure.
Avoid alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, and alcohol changes how medicines work in your body.
Slow down. Take your time when standing up. If lying down, sit up first. Then wiggle your feet and move your legs. This will increase circulation and get your heart rate up so that you dont feel lightheaded when you stand up.
If your medicine and lifestyle changes do not reduce your low blood pressure symptoms, talk with your doctor about other changes you can make.
How Is Low Blood Pressure Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and take your blood pressure by placing a blood pressure cuff around your upper arm. The cuff will tighten on your arm, and the monitor will measure your systolic and diastolic pressure. A blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm Hg is considered low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure may be a sign of an underlying condition, so your doctor will try to determine what caused your blood pressure to drop. Depending on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may also check your heart using an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, or stress test. Your doctor may also perform blood tests to check for:
- Hormonal imbalances.
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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.
Exercise For Low Blood Pressure
Everyday exercise such as a 30-minute walk or light running can serve to improve circulation and alleviate any existing symptoms of low blood pressure. It is best to go with a companion if already a patient of hypotension, in case episodes of blurry vision, giddiness, or fainting happen during these times.
It is necessary to avoid undue stress to the body and sudden, jerky movements through heavy lifting and other strenuous exercise so that the flow of movement is smooth. Discipline and consistency regarding exercise aids the underlying causes of low blood pressure, while alleviating its symptoms as well.
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What To Do If Your Blood Pressure Is Too Low
Drops in blood pressure occur when less blood reaches the brain than usual and, therefore, oxygenation is also lower. Although some people have hypotension, drops in blood pressure or faintingnormally occur in a timely manner, being more common in summer. It is necessary to know what should be done if a person is in this situation, so on OneHowTo we explain what to do if your pressure is too low.
When a drop in blood pressure occurs, symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, nausea, blurred vision, weakness, fainting… are presented. At the appearance of the first signs it will be necessary that the person suffering from hypotension lies down on the floor with legs raised. Thus, they will help blood to flow more easily get to the brain.
Keep the person with their legs about 45 degrees to the ground for a few minutes to facilitate oxygenation, which has been reduced due to the lipothymy or drop in blood pressure.
It will also be convenient to loosen the clothing of the person who has suffered from a drop in blood pressure, to facilitate breathing. You may need to fan them and it will be essential to avoid crowds around them.
If conscious, give them a sugary or caffeinated drink -such as coke or some sweets to revitalize them and increase their blood glucose level.
If you want to read similar articles to What to do if your blood pressure is too low, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.
Low Blood Pressure Consequences
Low blood pressure means that your organs are not getting enough blood and oxygen. When your low blood pressure is an emergency, the following severe complications can occur :
Heart Attack: When your heart loses a supply of blood.
Stroke: Persistent low blood pressure can cause the brain to fail rapidly.
Kidney failure: When insufficient blood is delivered to the kidneys, they dont eliminate wastes from the body. The amount of waste in the blood increases.
Shock: Shock is a life-threatening condition as a result of low blood flow throughout the body . The main symptom of shock is low blood pressure. The following are the different kinds of shock:
- Hypovolemic shock: Caused by severe fluid and blood loss. The heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body, or theres not enough blood to deliver oxygen through the body.
- Cardiogenic shock: This occurs when a damaged heart is unable to supply enough blood to the body.
- : When bacteria enters the blood producing toxins that lead to a decline of blood pressure.
- Anaphylactic shock: Sometimes fatal, an allergic reaction that can result in a dramatic fall in blood pressure.
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What Does It Mean To Have High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is a medical condition where your blood pressure numbers are consistently above normal.
However, your blood pressure naturally rises and falls throughout the day. It could go up in the doctor’s office if you have “white coat hypertension” or anxiety around medical professionals. Or you could have “masked hypertension” if your blood pressure is normal during a checkup but becomes higher later at work or home. That’s why to confirm a diagnosis of elevated blood pressure, yours will need to be measured with a blood pressure cuff multiple times under controlled conditions, says Dr. Lam.
A doctor can detect and treat high blood pressure depending on which stage you’re in, per the AHA. Here’s what each stage means: