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How To Tell If You Have Low Blood Pressure

Low Blood Pressure Also Known As Hypotension Is When You Have A Blood Pressure Level That Is Below The Normal Range

How do you know if you have High Blood Pressure?

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.

When Is Hypotension A Problem

Regular hypotension is not an issue if youre an adult in good health who does not experience any negative symptoms, says Dr. Anand. But if low blood pressure is unexpected and sudden , or in any of the following instances, a doctor visit is essential:

You experience lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting or confusion.

Why you should see your doctor:Symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting spells are a concern because of the potential for harm should they occur while someones doing a critical task like driving a car, working with machinery or caring for a young child, says Dr. Anand. Your doctor can check to ensure your low blood pressure isnt a sign of any other conditions, and can also make suggestions for lifestyle changes that may lessen symptoms. Some suggestions may include, standing up more slowly after sitting, drinking more water, avoiding alcohol or caffeine, and wearing compression stockings.

You are a senior citizen.

Why you should see your doctor: Blood pressure regulation can decline with age, or other medication youre on, so its important your doctor assess your overall health, diet and prescription medication regimen.

You are pregnant.

You are on certain types of prescription medication.

Looking For A List Of Symptoms

If you are looking for a list of symptoms and signs of high blood pressure , you wont find them here. This is because most of the time, there are none.

Myth: People with high blood pressure will experience symptoms, like nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing.

Truth: High blood pressure is a largely symptomless silent killer. If you ignore your blood pressure because you think a certain symptom or sign will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life.

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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:

Cause: Standing For Long Periods

How High Blood Affects Your Body

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.

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Medication Used To Treat Low Blood Pressure

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.

High Blood Pressure And Daily Activity

Check with your doctor before starting a new activity or increasing your level or intensity. Be active safely. Build up your levels of activity gradually.

Try to do at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. This can be done in bouts of 10 minutes or longer, if that is more convenient.

Physical activity is any form of bodily movement performed by our large muscle groups. Moderate-intensity physical activity , such as brisk walking or cycling, is enough to provide health benefits.

Walking is a great activity for all ages. You may like to join one of the Heart Foundations community walking groups.

Some types of exercises, such as body presses and lifting heavy weights, can raise your blood pressure. Avoid these if you have high blood pressure.

Low diastolic blood pressure is when blood pressure between heartbeats is lower than it should be. Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts against the arteries as the heart pumps it around the body.

This article will take a closer look at low diastolic blood pressure, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Blood pressure readings use two numbers recorded in millimeters of mercury . The two numbers measure:

Systolic blood pressure: This is the top number, and is the higher of the two. It measures how much pressure the blood applies to the artery walls when the heart beats.

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Tests For High Or Low Blood Pressure

The doctor will perform an exam, check your pressure, and look for causes of your high or low blood pressure numbers. This usually includes checking your vital signs and asking questions about your medical history, like:

  • Your typical blood pressure numbers
  • Any recent accidents, illnesses, or injuries
  • Your eating habits
  • More details about your symptoms

Your doctor may also order one or more of the following tests:

  • Blood cultures to look for signs of infection
  • A basic metabolic panel
  • X-rays of your chest or abdomen

Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges

3 Ways to Tell if You Have High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure Chart

and/or HIGHER THAN 120

Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.

The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:

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Medications That Can Cause Low Blood Pressure

Medications might also cause your blood pressure to become too low.

Diuretics, tricyclic antidepressants, and erectile dysfunction drugs can also cause hypotension.

If a medication youre taking causes your blood pressure to become too low, your doctor may adjust the dosage or change the medication. This usually improves the hypotension.

Hypotension doesnt always cause symptoms. But sometimes low blood pressure means your vital organs arent receiving as much blood flow as they need. If this happens, you might feel tired or unwell. Symptoms of hypotension may include:

  • fatigue, an all-around sense of tiredness or lacking energy
  • lightheadedness, or feeling like you might faint
  • dizziness, feeling off-balance when you get up from a reclined or seated position, or while youre standing
  • nausea, a sense of discomfort in your stomach and feeling like you want to vomit
  • clammy skin, when you feel damp or sweaty to the touch
  • depression, persistent feelings such as sadness or low mood that interfere with your daily activities

Your treatment plan will depend on whats causing your hypotension. Your doctor will consider factors including:

  • the type of hypotension youre experiencing
  • the situations that may be causing hypotension for you

For some people, low blood pressure may not cause any symptoms. In cases where treatment is needed, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medical treatment, or a combination of both.

How Can You Tell If You Have Low Blood Pressure

Signs of low blood pressure include fainting, blurred vision, nausea, thirst, dizziness and a lack of concentration, according to Mayo Clinic. Often low blood pressure has no symptoms. There is usually an underlying cause if severe symptoms of low blood pressure occur.

Optimal blood pressure for an adult is 120/80 mm Hg, as reported by the American Heart Association, or AHA. The systolic pressure, or the first number, should not be greater than 120. The diastolic pressure, or the second number, should be less than 80. Some people naturally have low blood pressure, which is considered to be around 85/55 mm Hg. If the person is not experiencing any negative side effects, the AHA says often his or her physician will simply monitor the blood pressure on an annual basis.

When symptoms of low blood pressure appear, however, is when it may be a cause for concern. When the blood pressure is too low, the body may not receive enough oxygen to function correctly, as stated by WebMD. The AHA lists some underlying issues that may cause low blood pressure:

  • Lengthy bed rest, perhaps due to illness or recovery from surgery
  • Blood pressure may drop at some point in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • Significant blood loss from trauma
  • Certain medications
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of B-12 or folic acid

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What Do The Readings Mean

As a general guide:

140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing high blood pressure . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe medications and advise you to make changes to your lifestyle to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a healthy lifestyle will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressureLow blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.

The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.

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How Can You Tell If You Have Low Blood Pressure?

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Checking Blood Pressure At Home

Keeping track of blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor find out if your treatment is working.

Your doctor may also suggest that you check your pressure at home if they think you may have white coat hypertension. Its a real condition. The stress of being in a doctors office raises your blood pressure, but when youre home, its normal.

Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the cuff fits properly. If your arm is too big for the cuff, the reading may be higher than your blood pressure really is. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff or make sure you buy a home monitor with a cuff that fits you.

You also can use a wrist blood pressure monitor, but they often arent as accurate. Follow the directions that come with the device to make sure you are using it correctly.

No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, its a good idea to take it to your doctors office. You can compare its reading to the numbers your doctor gets. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.

When you take your blood pressure at home, sit up straight in a chair and put both feet on the floor. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you the right way to position your arm so you get accurate readings.

Q How Do I Know If I Have Low Blood Pressure

  • If you suffer from any of the symptoms of low blood pressure as listed above, such as frequent palpitations, irregular breathing, instances of loss of consciousness, skin that is often cold and clammy to the touch, you may be suffering from low blood pressure. It is best to check with your doctor before implementing any low blood pressure diet or lifestyle change.
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    Treatments For High Or Low Blood Pressure

    While high blood pressure can be serious, the good news is that its usually manageable through medication or lifestyle changes, or both. Some common lifestyle recommendations to help keep your pressure in check include:

    • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
    • Exercise regularly at least 90 minutes per week or more.
    • Lower the amount of sodium in your diet.
    • Dont drink alcohol excessively.
    • Keep a healthy weight.

    Immediate symptoms of low blood pressure can sometimes be eased simply by sitting or lying down. It can also help to elevate your feet above the level of your heart. If your low blood pressure does not cause any significant impacts in your daily life, you may not require further treatment.

    Long-term treatment for hypotension can vary depending on your symptoms and how low your numbers are. Your doctor may focus on dealing with any underlying health conditions causing your low blood pressure.

    They may decide to administer intravenous fluids to provide your body with nutrients. Wearing compression socks on your calves and thighs may help improve the blood flow from the veins in your legs to your heart.

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

    What To Do If Blood Pressure Is Too Low

    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

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    Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure

    Most doctors will only consider chronically low blood pressure as dangerous if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms, such as:

    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Fainting
    • Dehydration and unusual thirst
    • Dehydration can sometimes cause blood pressure to drop. However, dehydration does not always cause low blood pressure. Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious condition in which your body loses more water than you take in. Even mild dehydration can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
    • Lack of concentration
    • Depression

    What Causes Low Blood Pressure

    The cause of low blood pressure isn’t always clear. It may be associated with the following:

    • Pregnancy

    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.

    Several drugs are commonly associated with postural hypotension. These medications can be divided into two major categories:

    Common causes of naturally occurring postural hypotension include:

    Certain diseases can also cause postural hypotension. These include:

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