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What Blood Pressure Reading Is Too Low

Other Causes Of False Blood Pressure Readings

TriHealth Doctor on Call: When is a Blood Pressure Reading Too Low?

The following are things you may be doing that will raise or lower your blood pressure temporarily. At the exact moment of measurement, your blood pressure will probably be different than what it is the rest of the day. This will give you a false indication of your blood pressure, even though it was accurate at the time of measurement .

  • Dont exercise, drink caffeine or smoke within 30 minutes of taking your blood pressure.
  • If you feel like you have to urinate or do a number two, go to the bathroom prior to measuring your BP. Anything that may stress your body or mind may raise your pressure.
  • Dont talk while taking your blood pressure. I knew someone who would use their home monitor while talking on the phone. This can definitely change your BP, especially if the conversation is stressful.
  • Make sure the 5 minutes prior to taking your measurement are restful and quiet.
  • This is more of a tip than a mistake. At the initial Bp measurement, take readings in both arms. Its normal to have a slight difference between the two arms. The arm with the higher measurement should be used for all subsequent readings .

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Complications Of High Blood Pressure

Untreated or poorly managed high blood pressure can cause serious and even life threatening issues. It can damage your blood vessels as well as your organs. The longer your hypertension goes untreated, the more it can damage your body and affect your health.

Potential complications of high blood pressure include:

Whats Stage 2 Hypertension

Stage 2 hypertension indicates a more serious condition.

You may receive a diagnosis of stage 2 hypertension if:

  • your systolic blood pressure is 140 mm Hg or higher, or
  • your diastolic blood pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher

At this stage, your doctor will recommend one or more medications to manage your blood pressure.

Medications arent the only treatment for this stage, though. Lifestyle habits are just as important in stage 2 hypertension as they are in the other stages.

If your systolic blood pressure is 140 mm Hgor higher or your diastolic blood pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher, its considered stage 2 hypertension.

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Causes And Risk Factors Of High Blood Pressure

The following can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure.

Older age The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age.

According to the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey , 70 percent of adults age 65 or older have hypertension.

The risk of prehypertension and high blood pressure has been increasing in recent years in young people, too, including children and teens, possibly because of the rise of obesity in these populations.

Race High blood pressure is more common in Black American adults than in white or Hispanic American adults.

Family history Having a family history of high blood pressure increases your risk, as the condition tends to run in families.

Being overweight The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulating through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls. Obesity especially abdominal obesity also increases stiffness in arteries, which raises blood pressure.

Lack of physical activity People who are inactive tend to have a higher heart rate and higher blood pressure than those who are physically active. Not exercising also increases the risk of being overweight.

Dietary choices What you choose to eat can increase your risk for hypertension, including in the following ways:

Alcohol consumption Drinking more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women may raise your blood pressure.

How Can You Manage Your High Blood Pressure

Visual Guide to Low Blood Pressure

Treatment of high blood pressure often starts with lifestyle changes, including decreasing salt in your diet, losing weight if necessary, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol use, and regular exercise.

In addition to lifestyle changes, medications are often used to lower blood pressure. There are several types of medications that treat high blood pressure with each type of medication having benefits and risks that should be carefully weighed by you and your health care provider. Most people take more than one medication in order to bring their blood pressure down to their treatment goal.

Your blood pressure medication should begin to work within days. However, because high blood pressure is a long-lasting medical condition that often has little or no symptoms, remembering to take your medications can be a challenge. Combination medicines, long-acting or once-a-day medications, may be used to decrease the burden of taking numerous medications and help ensure medications regularly. Once started, the medication should be used until your doctor tells you to stop.

Controlling your blood pressure should be part of a healthy living plan and lifelong task. The damage that high blood pressure causes your internal organs does not cause any symptoms until serious damage has been done.

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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.

How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed

Blood pressure checks are part of routine doctor visits. To check your blood pressure, your healthcare provider will place an inflatable cuff around your arm and use a pressure-measuring gauge.

Before giving a diagnosis of high blood pressure, your physician will likely take two or three readings during separate appointments. This is because blood pressure varies throughout the day, and some people may be anxious before or during a doctor visit, causing elevated blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is consistently 130/80 millimeters of mercury or higher, you will most likely be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

In 2017, the American Heart Association updated its definition of high blood pressure from the previous 140/90 mmHg or higher. The guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure that could lead to health problems.

If you have high blood pressure, your physician will take a full medical history and conduct a physical exam. Other routine tests may be given, including a blood test, urine test, cholesterol test, and an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram to check for signs of heart disease.

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How To Treat Hypotension

If you have low blood pressure that doesnt cause symptoms or only occasionally causes mild lightheadedness, you may not need to treat your condition.

If you have more significant symptoms, your doctor might suggest several lifestyle and medication changes for you to use to regulate your blood pressure better and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Whats The Difference Between Blood Pressure And Pulse

Video: This is when low blood pressure is cause for concern

While your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving through your blood vessels, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.

  • They are two separate measurements and indicators of health.
  • For people with high blood pressure , theres no substitute for measuring blood pressure.

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When Is Low Blood Pressure An Emergency

In many cases, low blood pressure readings are not a cause for concern. A person with low blood pressure may not even be aware that their blood pressure is low, as it does not cause symptoms in many cases.

There is also no specific cutoff point at which blood pressure becomes too low or dangerously low, as it may vary from person to person.

Some people may have chronic low blood pressure and can be otherwise healthy. The note that most doctors will only consider chronic low blood pressure to be dangerous if it causes other symptoms.

Severe symptoms that come on suddenly may also be a cause for concern.

While symptoms may vary from person to person, they typically include:

If a person experiences any of these symptoms, they should contact a doctor.

When blood pressure is very low or drops rapidly, it can also be a medical emergency. The note that extremely low drops in blood pressure may put the bodys organs at risk of not getting enough blood, which may lead to shock.

Some concerning signs accompanying very low blood pressure to look out for include:

  • rapid, shallow breathing
  • very weak but rapid pulse
  • cold, clammy skin
  • blue hue to the skin

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.

Flavonoids Promote Gut Health

Flavonoids are found naturally in a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as in dark chocolate, tea, and wine. Earlier research has linked flavonoids to lower blood pressure and other markers of cardiovascular health.

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined data on eating habits and blood pressure followed 87,242 women and 23,018 men for more than a decade. None of them had hypertension at the start of the study. By the end, people who had the most flavonoids in their diets mostly from blueberries and strawberries were 8 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.

Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined eating habits, blood pressure, and arterial stiffness for 1,898 women. This study found that women whose diets had the least flavonoids primarily from berries and tea had much more arterial stiffness, a risk factor for events like heart attacks and strokes. Higher intake of flavonoids found in berries was also associated with 3.0 mmHg lower average systolic blood pressure.

It could be the specific flavonoids present in berries and red wine affected specific gut bacteria, which in turn, affected systolic blood pressure, but more research is needed to understand how certain foods and their flavonoids affect the gut microbiome and how this, in turn, affects blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors, says Dr. Kris-Etherton, who wasnt involved in the new study.

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Gut Bacteria And Flavonoid

Your gut microbiome may help support the blood pressure-lowering effects of flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, pears, and wine, a new study suggests.

Juan Moyano/Stocksy

Eating more foods packed with flavonoids may help lower your systolic blood pressure the top number that reflects the pressure blood exerts against artery walls when the heart beats especially when you also have a greater diversity of bacteria in your gut, according to a study published in .

Our gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their cardioprotective effects, and this study provides evidence to suggest these blood pressure-lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet, says senior study author Aedín Cassidu, PhD, a professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

For the study, researchers examined data on 904 adult participants from the German PopGen biobank network, including information on food intake, gut microbiome, and blood pressure. Participants reported how often they ate 112 different foods, and researchers then used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to identify flavonoid-rich foods and calculate total daily flavonoid intake.

Get With The Guidelines

Low blood pressure Reading  Low, Too Low &  Dangerously Low BP

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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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.

Incorrect Cuff Location On The Arm

Having the correct cuff size and tightness as indicted above is not a guarantee you still wont get a false reading. The positioning of the cuff on the arm is just as important. There are 2 things to consider with cuff location. The 1st one is how far away the edge of the cuff should be from the bend of the arm. There is no one right answer for this distance. Each blood pressure monitor will have a different recommended distance. My Welch Allyn 1700 Series recommends a distance of 0.8 to 1.2, while the Omron 10 Series recommends a distance of 1/2.

The 2nd thing to consider with cuff location is the alignment of your cuff. The cuff usually has a marking on it informing you what part of the cuff should be lined up with the inside of your arm. The marking will sometimes have an alignment marker you line up with your arm artery. In addition, the tube is usually lined up with the middle of your inner arm as shown in the photo below.

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Blood Pressure Top Number High Bottom Number Low

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Conditions That Can Cause Low Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Facts : What Is a Low Blood Pressure Reading?

Certain conditions can cause long periods of hypotension that can become dangerous if left untreated. These conditions include:

  • pregnancy, due to an increase in demand for blood from both the pregnant person and the growing fetus
  • impaired circulation caused by a heart attack or heart condition
  • dehydration, for example if youre vomiting and cant keep liquids down, or have severe diarrhea
  • endocrine disorders, such as diabetes, adrenal insufficiency, and thyroid disease
  • autonomic dysfunction, damage to the nerves that control some bodily functions
  • prolonged bed rest

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What You Should Know About Fluctuating Blood Pressure In The Elderly

As you help monitor your loved ones blood pressure, keep in mind that numbers fluctuate slightly throughout the day thats normal. Several factors influence your blood pressure numbers. For example, your blood pressure may be lower if youre resting and higher if youre stressed. This means you may have a normal reading in the morning and an elevated number in the afternoon.

If youre concerned about excessive fluctuation in your loved ones blood pressure numbers:

  • Read instructions to ensure youre using your home blood pressure monitor equipment correctly. Variations in how you measure your loved ones blood pressure can result in different readings.
  • Bring your home monitor to your next doctors appointment to compare readings.
  • Be aware of white coat hypertension. In some cases, a persons blood pressure may be high at a doctors office but normal at home. This could be attributed to the stress related to a doctors appointment.

Your loved ones doctor may want you to keep a blood pressure diary with several readings a day for a couple of weeks to monitor any variations.

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Low Systolic Blood Pressure

Having low blood pressure is usually something everyone strives for. But when your systolic blood pressure gets too low, it can cause dizziness and fainting, and in some cases, can even be life threatening. If youve recently had your blood pressure checked and your systolic number was low, you might be wondering what it means and what you can do about it.

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What Is High Blood Pressure Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a common disease that occurs when the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood throughout the body. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and more.

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