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What Causes Low Blood Pressure

Low Blood Pressure When You Stand Up

What is Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)? | Ausmed Explains…

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.

The Tests That Are Essential To Determine The Low Blood Pressure Levels In The Body Are:

  • Blood tests One can find the blood test to determine the blood pressure levels by analyzing the blood sugar levels and the red blood cell count as they both impact the blood pressure measures.
  • ECG An electrocardiogram is a non-invasive and painless test done on the chest, arms, and legs by a cardiologist. It is done by fitting soft and sticky patches known as electrodes to the skin. These detect the signals from the heart and record them on graph paper or displays them on the screen.
  • Tilt table test This is the test to determine how the body reacts to various changes in position. It is done by making the person lie on a titled table such that the upper part of the body is raised. Then the stimulated movement from horizontal to the standing position is recorded with changes in the blood pressure values.
  • Sphygmomanometer This is a blood pressure monitoring machine that is a device composed of an inflatable cuff. This collapses and releases in a controlled manner with the manometer measuring the blood pressure.

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.

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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

Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure

The most common causes of Low Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it typically has no symptoms. In fact, most people dont even realize they have hypertension until their blood pressure is monitored.

Symptoms dont develop until the numbers get very high and organs get damaged, often irreversibly, says Dr. Desai.

If you have severe hypertension, you might notice the below symptoms, some of which were reported by patients in a study in the British Journal of General PracticeGoodhart A. Hypertension from the patients perspective. British Journal of General Practice. 2016 66:570. :

  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate

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What Should We Do When Bp Is Low

Following are the steps that should be taken if there is low blood pressure:

Eat smaller meals

Monitoring the blood sugar regularly

Consume more salt

Limit the consumption of alcohol

Spending quality time with family

What should we eat when BP is low?

Drinking a lot of water

Consumption of green leafy vegetables

Eating proteins in the form of meat, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy products

Fruits, nuts, beans, cereals containing folates

Consumption of salt

Causes Of Low Blood Pressure

We always hear that low blood pressure is good for you. In most cases, this is true. You generally want to maintain a blood pressure equal to or lower than 120/80 mmHg, though this can vary slightly. If your blood pressure drops below 90/60, you may be at risk. There is a wide range of reasons why your blood pressure may have dropped. If you ever feel fatigued, dizzy, or other symptoms, one of these causes may be low blood pressure.

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What Is Blood Pressure

As blood pumps through the circulatory system, it pushes against the walls of the arteries and veins. Blood pressure is the force of the blood as it presses against the blood vessel walls. It is measured in systolic pressure and diastolic pressure .

Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. Normal blood pressure is considered to be below 120/80 mm Hg. In a blood pressure reading, the top number refers to systolic pressure, and the bottom number refers to the diastolic pressure.

When To See A Doctor

What Causes Low Blood Pressure

A person should seek medical advice if their blood pressure falls suddenly, is very low, or is significantly lower than usual.

They should also seek advice if they have other symptoms, such as excessive urination, a fever, or fatigue, as these could indicate an underlying condition.

With very low blood pressure, insufficient blood and oxygen may be reaching the brain and other vital organs. Emergency medical attention may be necessary.

If a person shows signs of anaphylaxis, whoever is with them should take immediate action. If the person carries an autoinjector, a bystander can help them administer it. They should also call 911.

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What Are Low Blood Pressure Signs And Symptoms

Many people live with low blood pressure but they don’t experience any symptoms. If that’s the case, the low blood pressure is of no consequence. However, others who have low blood pressure experience dizziness and lightheadedness. This is an indication that insufficient blood flow is reaching the brain. This, in turn, can lead to weakness, nausea, confusion, and blurry vision. Low blood pressure can affect other organs leading to shortness of breath, fainting, blacking out, chest pain, and cool, clammy skin.

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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Dangers Of Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure may not be discussed as often as high blood pressure, but it should be addressed, as prolonged low blood pressure can negatively affect your organs.

A certain amount of blood pressure is needed to maintain blood flow to the organs, says Dr. Wong. The blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to these organs. If the blood pressure is too low, an adequate blood supply cannot get to these organs.

If left untreated, low blood pressure can increase your risk of fainting, heart attack and organ damage, adds Dr. Desai.

How Is Low Blood Pressure Treated

What is Low Blood Pressure?

Anyone who experiences low blood pressure or believes he or she may be experiencing low blood pressure should be evaluated by a physician. Even if low blood pressure does not cause any symptoms, the patient should still be evaluated. Treatment for low blood pressure varies depending on the cause. If the patient is already taking medication to treat high blood pressure, the dose of the medication may need to be adjusted. If fluid loss from diarrhea or vomiting is causing a drop in blood pressure, IV fluids may be administered to bring blood pressure back up to normal.

  • Image Source: BigStockPhoto / Ryan Fox
  • BigStockPhoto / Yanik Chauvin
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    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.

    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure

    The symptoms of low blood pressure may include:

    These symptoms can occur when doing nothing. They are more likely to occur when changing position, such as standing up or when straining on the toilet.

    However, often there are no symptoms and low blood pressure is often only identified as a result of a routine medical examination or during the course of an investigation for some other condition or underling illness.

    Low blood pressure may be more serious in elderly people who may have an underlying illness or who may be at risk of a fall.

    Check your symptoms with healthdirects Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

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    When To Worry About Low Blood Pressure

    We all know that high blood pressure can be dangerous. But what about low blood pressure

    Also called hypotension, low blood pressure is not a problem if youre healthy and show no signs or symptoms of the condition. However, abnormally low blood pressure can cause problems such as dizziness and fainting and can be a sign that other serious conditions, such as heart disease, are present.

    How Is Blood Pressure Determined

    LOW Blood Pressure: Hidden Causes

    Several factors influence blood pressure. Blood volume and blood vessel wall behavior are two important determinants of blood pressure. The more blood pumped with each heartbeat, the higher the blood pressure. The presence of stiff or narrow artery walls that resist blood flow also increases blood pressure. Having lower blood volume and open, flexible arteries decreases blood pressure.

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    When Should You Worry About Low Blood Pressure

    As long as youre not experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, there is no need for concern. Most doctors consider chronically low blood pressure dangerous only if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms, explains Eksteen.

    These symptoms include:

  • Heart problems, such as heart failure and heart attack
  • Medications, including diuretics and other medications that treat hypertension, heart medications, Parkinsons disease medicine, tricyclic antidepressants, erectile dysfunction drugs, alcohol and narcotics.
  • Neurally mediated hypotension
  • Nutritional deficiencies: A lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid causes anaemia, which can lead to low blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy: Its common for blood pressure to drop in the first 24 weeks.
  • Prolonged bed rest
  • Diet And Nutrition For Low Blood Pressure

    A balanced meal with complex carbohydrates, fish, lean meat, fruits and cooked vegetables goes a long way in preventing hypotension. Changing meal patterns to make them more frequent and less heavy prevent as well as address postprandial fatigue and hypotension.

    On diagnosis of a dip in BP, a low blood pressure diet that supplies adequate sodium, and potassium while maintaining blood sugar levels is generally recommended for patients.Increased consumption of non-alcoholic beverages helps maintain adequate hydration and is recommended. Increasing salt quantities or addition of soy sauce in everyday cooking is a simple change that combats effects of low blood pressure and may be suggested by your doctor.

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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:

    Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Veins

    What Is Low Blood Pressure?

    If blood pressure becomes too high, baroreceptors send signals to the veins instructing them to expand and store more blood and return less blood to the heart. The result is blood flow decreases and blood pressure becomes lower. Conversely, veins can become narrower and return more blood to the heart, which increases blood pressure.

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    When To Call Your Doctor

    The risks of both high and low blood pressure make monitoring your blood pressure at home essential to your overall health and well-being. Both Dr. Wong and Dr. Desai recommend calling your healthcare provider if your self-monitored blood pressure readings are greater than 180/120 mmHgeven if you have no other symptoms.

    You should call 911 if these blood pressure readings are associated with symptoms of organ damage, such as headache, vision changes, weakness, numbness, chest pain or shortness of breath, says Dr. Wong.

    Normal Blood Pressure For Men And Women By Age

    A normal blood pressure reading indicates that the heart and blood vessels are not working too hard pushing blood and that the blood is not exerting too much pressure on the walls of the vessels, says Aseem Desai, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Southern California. Recent data from the American Heart Association suggests the optimal normal reading for adults over 20 is lower than 120/80 mmHgVirani S, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics 2021 update . American Heart Association Journal. 2021 143:e254-e743. .

    Dr. Desai notes blood pressure can vary depending on a persons age, gender, race and ethnicity, but it should still fall within the general normal range. While numbers lower than 120/80 are generally considered normal, Dr. Desai adds, The target blood pressure for treatment varies depending on age and associated co-morbidities .

    Previously, guidance for normal blood pressure for adults varied by gender and specific age, but new data states normal blood pressure for adults as a collective is less than 120/80 mmHgHigh Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 7/16/2021. .

    When it comes to race and ethnicity, Dr. Desai says certain groups have a higher rate of hypertension. Non-Hispanic Black people have a significantly higher rate of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic white people, and Hispanics and non-Hispanic Asians have lower rates than the first two, he says.

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    Most Common Causes Of Low Blood Pressure

    Health Check Certified By: Patty Weasler, RN

    The media and medical world place a lot of emphasis on high blood pressure, as it can lead to bigger problems like stroke or heart attacks. However, there are a substantial number of Americans out there dealing with the opposite problem low blood pressure .

    However, what some people might not be aware of is that low blood pressure can be just as dangerous, as lack of blood flow to major organs can cause heart attacks, kidney failure, or death according to MedicineNet. Aside from potentially serious symptoms, here are 12 possible causes of low blood pressure

    If You Notice A Sudden Decline In Blood Pressure

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

    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

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    Medications That Can Cause Low Blood Pressure

    Several medicines may cause low blood pressure, including some medications used to control high blood pressure.

    Working with your doctor or other health care provider to change your medication or adjust your dosage can help control low blood pressure. You should never modify a dose or stop taking a medication without first consulting your health care provider.

    Alpha and beta blockers, diuretics, erectile dysfunction drugs, Parkinsons disease drugs and some types of antidepressants can cause low blood pressure.

    Medications that can cause low blood pressure include:

    • Benicar a prescription blood pressure medication
    • Cialis an erectile dysfunction drug risk is especially high when taken with nitroglycerin heart medication
    • Cymbalta a serotonin and norepinephrine inhibitor antidepressant
    • Hydrochlorothiazide a widely used generic diuretic
    • Inderal, Innopran XL and other versions of propranolol beta blockers
    • Lasix a diuretic
    • Confusion

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