What Happens If Your Blood Pressure Is Too Low
There are several reasons why you might have low blood pressure. Blood pressure changes throughout the day. Various factors including stress, sleep, temperature, physical activity levels, and time of day can influence your blood pressure.
Dehydration, medications, bed rest, pregnancy, heart problems, allergic reactions, infections, nutritional deficiencies, and shock can result in low blood pressure.
Generally speaking, low blood pressure is only a problem if it causes symptoms.
Look for symptoms that can accompany low blood pressure:
- rapid, shallow breathing
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.
Favorite Online Support Networks
This online support group from the American Heart Association allows you to connect with others going through an array of heart issues, including hypertension. Ask questions, share your story, and get peer support from others going through similar experiences to take control of their heart health.
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What Other Conditions Cause Low Blood Pressure
Sometimes, a bacterial or fungal infection from another part of the body enters the blood. This type of infection is called septicemia. Its potentially life-threatening and may cause severe low blood pressure called septic shock that may damage organs. Septicemia may result from diverticulitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, or other infections.
Q What Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
- Nutrition deficiency in the diet
- Certain antidepressants
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What Are Some Of The Other Signs That Death Is Imminent
In addition to low blood pressure before death, there are other signs and symptoms that are often seen that a patient is approaching death. Some common signs and symptoms that death may be imminent include:
- Cold hands, feet, and legs.
- Mottled skin.
- Changes in breathing.
Each patient is unique. Some patients may display some of the above symptoms, but not others. There is also no specific order in which to expect to see these signs and symptoms. To receive a free guide to end-of-life signs and symptoms and learn more about blood pressure before death, please complete the form on this page.
About Heart And Vascular Institute
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.
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Low Blood Pressure When You Stand Up
Sometimes, changes in your posture can cause your blood pressure to drop, for example, going from sitting or lying down to standing up. You might feel the symptoms listed above when you stand up, such as feeling dizzy or faint. They will pass quickly as your body adjusts, but can put you at risk of falls.
This is called postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Its caused by changes to your arteries which happen as you get older and if youre taking medications to lower your blood pressure.
The animation below provides information on the causes, symptoms and potential interventions related to orthostatic hypotension.
This film was produced by Newcastle University for work completed by Dr James Frith, supported by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre.
What Are The Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure may be induced by conditions that decrease tension in artery walls or decrease blood volume. Dehydration and bleeding are two examples of conditions that reduce blood volume. Conditions that reduce the amount of blood pumped by the heart such as cardiomyopathy and heart attack may be associated with lower blood pressure. Injuries to the spinal cord and side effects from certain medications can also reduce blood pressure.
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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.
Q How Do I Know If I Have Low Blood Pressure
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Possible Complications And Risks
In some cases, your blood pressure can drop so low that your body goes into shock. This is because without proper blood flow your organs dont get enough oxygen. Signs that your body is going into shock include feeling clammy with cold but sweaty skin, faster breathing, and a rapid pulse.
If you experience these symptoms it is imperative that you seek medical attention. The greatest risk lies in not addressing your low blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about any blood pressure-related concerns you have.
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.
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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.
Changing The Body’s Position
Blood pressure can vary throughout the body due to the direct action of gravity. When a person is standing, blood pressure is higher in the legs than in the head, much in the way that the water pressure at the bottom of a swimming pool is higher than that at the top. When a person lies down, blood pressure tends to be more equal throughout the body.
When a person stands up, blood from the veins in the legs has a harder time getting back to the heart. As a result, the heart has less blood to pump out, and blood pressure may temporarily drop throughout the body. When a person sits down or lies down, blood can more easily return to the heart, and cardiac output and blood pressure may increase. Elevating the legs above the level of the heart can increase return of blood to the heart, which increases cardiac output and raises blood pressure.
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When To Contact A Medical Professional
If low blood pressure causes a person to pass out , seek treatment right away. Or call 911 or the local emergency number. If the person is not breathing or has no pulse, begin CPR.
- Black or maroon stools
Hypotension Blood pressure – low Postprandial hypotension Orthostatic hypotension Neurally mediated hypotension NMH
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.
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.
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How Blood Pressure Is Measured And What The Readings Mean
Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, with one “over” the other. The first, or top, number is the systolic blood pressure. This indicates the amount of pressure your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries when your heart contracts. The second, or bottom, number is the diastolic pressure, which refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart refills between beats.
Your healthcare provider typically measures your blood pressure using a stethoscope and an inflatable cuff that wraps around your upper arm. The cuff is inflated until it is tight enough to stop the blood from flowing, then it is slowly deflated. Through the stethoscope, your doctor or nurse will hear the whooshing sound of the blood returning this is the systolic pressure. The moment the whooshing sound disappears marks the diastolic pressure.
The commonly accepted ideal blood pressure for adults is 120/80 mm Hg or lower. But since blood pressure naturally rises with age, your BP might be higher than that without any cause for concern. For instance, according to a chart from Disabled World, a normal blood pressure reading for an 80-year-old woman could be 134/84 mm Hg.
So, what is considered low blood pressure in elderly people? Typically, the low blood pressure range is anything below 90/60 mm Hg. This is called hypotension. The Disabled World chart shows that a dangerous blood pressure level is 50/33 mm Hg.
Blood Pressure Before Death
When a patient is approaching death, the body will begin to shut down as the end nears. Because the heart is unable to pump normally, blood pressure lowers and blood is unable to circulate properly throughout the body. While it is never easy to watch a loved one slip away, this is all part of the natural dying process.
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Changing The Volume Of Blood
The higher the volume of blood in the arteries, the higher the blood pressureâas long as the width of the arteries remains constant. The volume of blood in the arteries is affected by
How much fluid is in the body
Whether very small arteries leak fluid
How much fluid the kidneys remove from the blood to excrete in the urine
Certain drugs, particularly diuretics
What Can I Do For Myself
There are other things you can do for yourself to help with your symptoms.
- Wear supportive elastic stockings . They put extra pressure on your legs which helps to improve circulation and raise your blood pressure. For some people this can be enough, but speak to your GP first because they arent suitable for everyone.
- Stand up slowly from sitting or lying down. You can try other simple movements to get the blood flowing before you stand up, such as straightening and bending your legs.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Drink enough water throughout the day, around 2 litres, so you dont get dehydrated.
- Eat little and often throughout the day. This avoids low blood pressure after eating.
Read more about how .
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Is My Blood Pressure Too Low
Most doctors agree that a healthy blood pressure is anything under 120/80 mmHg. But how low is too low for blood pressure? Hypotension can occur when blood pressure drops below 90/60 mmHg.
This isnt a hard and fast rule, though. Since factors, like age, weight, and level of physical activity contribute to blood pressure, your doctor may not diagnose you with hypotension even if your blood pressure is a little low.
Low blood pressure typically becomes an issue only if youre experiencing symptoms, such as:
- Over-the-counter cold medicines
What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure often has no symptoms, but can sometimes mean that not enough blood is flowing to your brain or organs. This can cause symptoms such as:
- feeling dizzy, faint or light-headed
- feeling unsteady
- suddenly noticing your heartbeat
If you have these symptoms, stop what youre doing and sit down or lie down in case you fall, and drink some water.
Speak to your doctor or nurse if you experience these symptoms. As well as being unpleasant, they could mean youre at risk of having a fall. They could also be a sign of another health problem.
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When To Call The Doctor
Low blood pressure can cause symptoms of lightheadedness or dizziness, weakness or feeling faint. If you have any of these symptoms associated with a low blood pressure, you should contact your doctor.
If you have a lower than normal blood pressure but you feel fine without symptoms you are probably okay, says Dr. Courson.
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 .
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