Low Blood Pressure Definition And Facts
- Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is blood pressure low enough that the flow of blood to the organs of the body is inadequate and symptoms and/or signs of low blood flow develop.
- Low pressure alone, without symptoms or signs, usually is not unhealthy.
- The symptoms of low blood pressure include lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. These symptoms are most prominent when individuals go from the lying or sitting position to the standing position .
- Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate flow of blood to the body’s organs can cause strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. The most severe form is shock.
- Common causes of low blood pressure include a reduced volume of blood, heart disease, and medications.
- The cause of low blood pressure can be determined with blood tests, radiologic studies, and cardiac testing to look for heart failure and arrhythmias.
- Treatment of low blood pressure is determined by the cause of the low pressure.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure In Elderly Individuals
As long as you feel OK, a low blood pressure reading is generally nothing to worry about. Doctors are not usually concerned about a low BP in otherwise healthy individuals.
So, when is blood pressure too low? You should see your healthcare provider if you experience hypotension symptoms such as:
Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Kidneys
Kidneys participate in blood pressure control by regulating urine production. When kidneys pull more water out of the blood, blood pressure decreases. When the kidneys decrease urine output, water remains in the blood and blood pressure increases. The action of the kidneys on blood pressure is slow — acting over hours to days — compared to baroreceptor control and other systems that influence blood pressure very quickly.
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Impacts Of Low Blood Pressure
As mentioned, some people have a naturally lower blood pressure and this is normal and often nothing to worry about. However, if you’re suffering from any symptoms or abnormally low blood pressure which impacts your day to day life it is important to seek advice. If left untreated, it can lead to anaemia. This is when not enough red blood cells are produced meaning a lack of oxygen is available to vital organs such as the heart and brain, increasing the chances of heart attacks or strokes. Find out more about anaemia.
What Is Considered A Low Blood Pressure Reading
What Is Considered A Low Blood Pressure Reading. Healthy and unhealthy blood pressure ranges. Within certain limits, the lower your blood pressure reading is, the better. 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. Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types, namely: How low is too low for blood pressure?
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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.
What Are The Symptoms
Many people with low blood pressure have no symptoms. Their low blood pressure doesnt create problems in fact, it is a good thing, as they are less likely to develop issues with high blood pressure.
But some people with low blood pressure do have symptoms. The most common are sudden dizziness, light-headedness, or even fainting, especially when standing up from sitting, squatting or lying down.2 This is called postural or orthostatic hypotension and is caused by not enough blood getting to the brain. Usually it lasts only seconds. In the elderly, however, it can have a greater impact, resulting in more health problems and injuries.3
Other symptoms of low blood pressure can include:
- inability to concentrate
The biggest risk of harm from low blood pressure comes from losing your balance or fainting and then falling an injury from a fall can be significant.
Some people, especially the elderly, experience low blood pressure after eating, as blood moves to the vessels that supply the stomach and intestines to aid digestion.4
In other people, mostly children and youth, a rare condition may result in low blood pressure when standing for too long.5
If you have low blood pressure and regularly experience difficult or distressing symptoms, or have had sudden onset of low blood pressure with symptoms, see your doctor for a full assessment.
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About Low Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is a measure of the force that your blood puts on the walls of your arteries as it’s pumped around your body. Youll see blood pressure shown as two numbers such as 120/80mmHg. The first number is the highest pressure when your heart contracts this is your systolic blood pressure. The second number is the pressure when your heart is fully relaxed this is your diastolic blood pressure. The letters mmHg stand for millimetres of mercury, which is the unit used to measure blood pressure.
Theres no set level at which your blood pressure is said to be too low its different for everyone. You might have a blood pressure thats naturally lower than average but if it doesnt cause you any problems, it wont be classed as low blood pressure. Your blood pressure is usually only considered to be too low if its causing symptoms.
Heart Disease & Hypotension
Although each and every individual will, at some point in their lives, experience a drop in blood pressure for one reason or another, certain conditions can cause prolonged periods of hypotension that can become dangerous if left untreated. Unfortunately, there are several types of heart problems that may cause low blood pressure, in addition to other more widely associated symptoms of heart disease.
Low blood pressure may be a potential complication of the following heart conditions:
As a consequence of the aforementioned medical issues, a patients heart may not be able to circulate enough blood to meet your bodys needs, provoking low blood pressure.
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When Is Low Blood Pressure Too Low Hypotension And More
Some people naturally have low blood pressure, known as hypotension. However, when high blood pressure suddenly becomes low blood pressure, it could be cause for concern.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, may be a sign of good health and of a decreased risk of heart disease. But not always. At times, continually low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure can lead to worrisome symptoms and even serious health problems.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
Depending on the reason for your low blood pressure, you might be able to reduce or prevent symptoms.
- Drink more water, less alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating and can lower blood pressure, even if you drink in moderation. Water, on the other hand, fights dehydration and increases blood volume.
Pay attention to your body positions. Gently move from a prone or squatting to a standing position. Don’t sit with your legs crossed.
If you begin to get symptoms while standing, cross your thighs in a scissors fashion and squeeze, or put one foot on a ledge or chair and lean as far forward as possible. These moves encourage blood flow from your legs to your heart.
Eat small, low-carb meals. To help prevent blood pressure from dropping sharply after meals, eat small portions several times a day and limit high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.
Your doctor also might recommend drinking one or two strong cups of caffeinated coffee or tea with breakfast. Don’t drink caffeine throughout the day because you will become less sensitive to caffeine, and caffeine can cause dehydration.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise that raises your heart rate and resistance exercises two or three days a week. Avoid exercising in hot, humid conditions.
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What Exactly Is Low Blood Pressure
Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80 mmHg. When the pressure in your heart drops below 90mmHg systolic and 60mmHg diastolic then youre considered to have low blood pressure.
However, as Gabriel Eksteen, dietitian and exercise physiologist at the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa points out, these numbers dont necessarily mean you should be alarmed. Remember that blood pressure readings can be affected by the time of day, your stress levels, exercise and your fitness levels, temperature, and the last meal you had, says Eksteen.
In the same way high blood pressure can be an indication of heart problems, so too can low blood blood pressure. Due to the fact that low blood pressure means that less oxygen gets transported through your veins, chronic low blood pressure can also lead to neurological problems when the brain is starved of much-needed oxygen.
Natural Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
It is important to pinpoint what is causing low blood pressure so that steps can be taken to monitor your diet or medication to ensure blood pressure returns to more normal levels:
Dehydration – when you’re losing more fluids than you take on can cause, weakness, dizziness and in some cases sickness & fevers
Lack of nutrients – when you’ve a lack of certain vitamins, your body can fail to produce enough red blood cells which could lead to anaemia
Blood loss – due to a major injury or internal bleeding means there is less blood in your body, lowering blood pressure
Time of day – blood pressure changes overnight so when you wake in the morning it will naturally be lower
Exercise – exercise temporarily increases your blood pressure, however, over time your blood pressure when resting will become lower and your body will begin to run more efficiently
Pregnancy – a woman’s circulatory system expands rapidly during pregnancy meaning blood pressure will naturally drop, and will be monitored during the pregnancy. After childbirth, blood pressure should return to previous levels
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Research For Your Health
The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including problems associated with low blood pressure. Learn about current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.
Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
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.
Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure is defined primarily by signs and symptoms of low blood flow and not by a specific blood pressure number. Some individuals routinely may have blood pressure numbers of 90/50 with no symptoms and therefore do not have low blood pressure. However, others who normally have higher blood pressures may develop symptoms of low blood pressure if their blood pressure drops to 100/60.
During pregnancy, blood pressure tends to decrease. Normal blood pressure during pregnancy may be lower than 100/60. Your OB/GYN or Midwife should monitor your bood pressure if you are pregnant.
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Spotting The Warning Signs Of Critically Low Blood Pressure
For many individuals, hypotension is no reason to worry desirable, even. But for others, abnormally low blood pressure can manifest in a variety of health issues. The majority of medical professionals will only consider chronically low blood pressure as dangerous if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms. For this reason, it is crucial that individuals familiarize themselves with the warning signs of low blood pressure all ranging in their severity so that it may be treated properly and in a timely manner. Such symptoms may include dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, blurred or fading vision, fatigue, nausea, lack of concentration, etc. In patients with more dire cases, low blood pressure can be life-threatening. Patients bodies may go into shock as a result of extreme hypotension, causing a weak or rapid pulse rapid, shallow breathing cold, clammy, pale skin and confusion, especially in older individuals. People who encounter signs of shock are advised to immediately seek emergency medical help. Although most instances of low blood pressure merely necessitate routine examination to monitor readings, its important to see your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of low blood pressure because they can point to more serious problems.
Low Blood Pressure Causes
Low blood pressure causes may be due to heart problems, endocrine disorders, severe infection, allergic reaction, nutritional deficiency, and neurological disorder.
Athletes and people who are exercises regularly tend to have lower pressure than do people who are not as fit. However, in some instances, low blood pressure can be a sign of serious, even life-threatening disorders.
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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 Can You Do To Treat Low Blood Pressure
While there may be short-term solutions, how you treat low blood pressure ultimately depends on what is causing it, explains Eksteen. In the short-term, sitting or lying down, elevating the legs, drinking water and eating something salty can help to bring blood pressure back up. Long-term treatment will obviously depend on the reason for low blood pressure and will be need to be directed by a medical professional.
Changes to your diet may also help alleviate the symptoms of low blood pressure in certain instances. In some people, low blood pressure can be triggered after a meal when blood rushes to the gut, reducing the blood flow in the rest of the body’s circulation. Smaller, frequent meals can help here, says Eksteen.
Its important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, and should you have any concern regarding your blood pressure, give your doctor a call.
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How To Prevent Low Blood Pressure In Teenagers
If the child has mild symptoms of low blood pressure, then minor changes in the lifestyle might be enough to prevent any problems. Here are a few measures you may consider.
- Avoid dehydration encourage them to take a lot of fluids.
- Use adequate salt in the diet.
- Make them eat a balanced diet to provide all the essential nutrients to the body.
- Tell them to avoid standing up suddenly from a sitting position.
- Let them eat smaller meals at regular intervals and cut down on the intake of carbohydrates.
- Ask them to wear compression stockings.
- If they have light-headedness or dizziness., let them lie down for a few minutes. with both feet at higher level than the body.
- Sitting down and putting the head between the knees will help get the blood pressure back to normal.
A proper diet, along with the above tips, can help manage low blood pressure better.
Low Blood Pressure: What Is It
Low blood pressure could include feelings of nausea, dizziness or nothing at all.
In some people, low blood pressure can occur naturally and with no symptoms. In others, however, low blood pressure symptoms could be pointing towards a more serious problem. With that said, it makes sense to know what kind of signs your body could be giving you.
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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:
- Fludrocortisone, which increases blood volume.
- Midodrine, which increases blood pressure.