Seeking Emergency Medical Attention
If a person experiences low blood pressure along with concerning symptoms such as a loss of consciousness, mental confusion, and a weak, rapid pulse and breathing pattern they should seek immediate medical attention.
In the emergency room, doctors may ask questions about a persons medical history, medications they may be taking, or any infections or accidents they may have had.
They may ask about or check for symptoms. They may also administer tests to check heart rate and blood pressure, and imaging tests to check the internal body and organs for other issues.
Even if a person is experiencing mild rather than severe symptoms along with low blood pressure, they should still seek guidance from a doctor.
Doctors may want to monitor the symptoms and test the blood pressure themselves to make any necessary diagnosis and administer treatment.
Aside from these events, a person may have low blood pressure and be in otherwise good health.
What Numbers Mean High Blood Pressure What Numbers Mean Normal Blood Pressure
Normal blood pressure is at or under 120 over 80.
In November 2017, blood pressure guidelines were modified. Any blood pressure measurement at or above 130 over 80 is now considered high. And thats what we in the medical community call hypertension. These numbers are down from the old recommendation of 140 over 90.
In the past, many people in the United States were considered prehypertension. The new recommendations get rid of that category, and now almost half of U.S. adults fall into the category of hypertension. That could seem shocking. But patients who are in this category should already be discussing their blood pressure numbers with their primary care doctor. If they arent, now is a good time to connect with their medical provider and come up with a plan for treatment.
How Is Blood Pressure Generated
The left lower chamber of the heart receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it throughout the body. The heart fills with blood between heartbeats. This phase in the heart cycle is called diastole. When the heart pumps to push blood throughout the arteries, this phase is called systole. You can place your fingers on your neck or the inside of your wrist to detect your heartbeat. The pulse you feel is the contraction of the heart’s left ventricle.
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What Causes High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is something we see in patients of all ages. It is often linked to inactivity, poor diet and obesity. But in as many as 95 percent of reported cases, we aren’t able to determine an underlying cause. Family history, genetics, age and ethnicity can also all play a role. So can some drugs that are taken for other conditions, but don’t stop taking any prescribed medication without talking to your doctor.
Serious Injuries And Shock
Low blood pressure can also be caused by serious injuries or burns, particularly if you have lost a lot of blood. This can mean that there is less blood being pumped around your body. Low blood pressure can also occur if you go into shock after having a serious injury.
Other kinds of shock are described below.
Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, is caused by an allergic reaction to something – for example, a wasp sting or a peanut. During an allergic reaction, your body produces a large amount of a chemical called histamine, which causes your blood vessels to widen and leads to a sudden, severe drop in blood pressure.
Cardiogenic shock occurs when your heart cannot supply enough blood to your body, so your blood pressure drops. This can happen during a heart attack.
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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.
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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Pregnancy And Low Blood Pressure
Its normal for your blood pressure to become lower during pregnancy. This is mainly because your hormones relax the walls of your blood vessels. Your blood pressure may fall very early in your pregnancy and reach its lowest point during your second trimester . It then starts to rise again, returning to normal after you have your baby.
If you have low blood pressure during pregnancy, you may feel faint and dizzy suddenly when you get up from lying or sitting down. This is called postural hypotension. You can help relieve your symptoms by making sure you get up slowly from lying or sitting. And if you feel youre going to faint, sit or lie down right away.
Occasionally, symptoms of low blood pressure may be caused by other underlying health conditions affecting your pregnancy. Always tell your midwife about your symptoms. Seek medical help if you have dizziness or fainting or any other symptom that youre worried about.
How Does Blood Pressure Work
During relaxation of the heart , the left ventricle of the heart fills with blood returning from the lungs. The left ventricle then contracts and pumps blood into the arteries . The blood pressure in the arteries during contraction of the ventricle is higher because blood is being actively ejected into the arteries. It is lower during relaxation of the ventricle when no blood is being ejected into the arteries. The pulse we feel when we place our fingers over an artery is caused by the contraction of the left ventricle and the ejection of blood.
Blood pressure is determined by two factors:
Generally, blood pressure tends to be higher if more blood is pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are narrow and/or stiff. Narrow and/or stiff arterioles, by resisting the flow of blood, increase blood pressure. Arterioles may become narrower when the muscles surrounding them contract. Arterioles may become stiff and narrow when older patients develop atherosclerosis.
Blood pressure tends to be lower if less blood is being pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are larger and more flexible and, therefore, have less resistance to the flow of blood.
The heart rate increases and the forcefulness of the heart’s contractions increase, pumping more blood through the heart.
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. It’s 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.
What Low Blood Pressure Means And When It’s An Emergency
- Low blood pressure is defined by a blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm Hg or lower, but a reading this low isn’t necessarily a cause for concern.
- It becomes a concern if you start to exhibit symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath, or fainting if this happens, you should seek medical attention.
- In some cases, low blood pressure can be a symptom of a more serious condition like sepsis or Addison’s disease.
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood moving through your artery walls. When that force is too low, your vital organs may not be getting the right amount of blood flow they need to function.
Here’s what you need to know about what might cause low blood pressure and when it is considered an emergency.
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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:
How To Check Blood Pressure And What Do Readings Mean
Blood pressure is measured by using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer or a blood pressure monitor. A sphygmomanometer has an inflatable cuff that is placed around the arm.
A blood pressure reading has two numbers: one on top of the other . The top number is called the systolic pressure reading and is the pressure exerted from the heart when it pumps through the arteries. The bottom number is called the diastolic pressure reading and is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting in between beats.
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Heat Exhaustion Or Stroke
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person is out in the sun or in high temperatures for too long. It usually goes hand-in-hand with dehydration and has many of the same symptoms. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can cause damage to the vital organs. Like dehydration, you may feel dizzy, disoriented, or faint this is because the body cannot efficiently send blood to your organs.
How To Manage Low Blood Pressure
Some individuals might want to have low blood pressure. After all, a lower than average blood pressure doesn’t always cause problems. For some individuals with hypotension, which is the medical term for abnormally low blood pressure, it can lead to fainting and dizziness. However, there are severe cases in which low blood pressure might become life-threatening. Blood pressure readings lower than 90/60 are generally considered hypotension. Sometimes the low blood pressure is temporary and caused by dehydration, and in other cases, it might be related to a chronic medical or surgical condition.
Finding out the underlying cause is an important part of treatment. There are also ways to manage the condition itself. Get familiar with these treatments now.
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What Does Blood Pressure Tell You
Blood pressure measures the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, or blood vessels. Your heart pumps blood into your arteries. And the arteries carry that blood to the rest of your body.
The top number of your blood pressure reading tells you the force of the blood against artery walls when your heart beats. It is called systolic pressure. The bottom number tells you what your blood pressure is when your heart is at rest between heartbeats. It is called diastolic pressure.
When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency
If you frequently experience symptoms of low blood pressure, such as dizziness or fainting spells, you should consult a doctor. While low blood pressure, itself, usually isn’t fatal, there are serious medical situations where it is considered an emergency, and you should go to the hospital.
“The likelihood of dying from low blood pressure is low unless it is related to another disease process,” Weinberg says.
For example, a blood infection, or , can result in low blood pressure. Sepsis occurs when the chemicals released by the body to fight an infection trigger widespread inflammation, resulting in blood clotting that reduces blood flow to vital organs, such as your heart, kidneys, and brain. This can progress to septic shock and very low blood pressure, which may be fatal, and should be treated immediately.
Low blood pressure can also be affiliated with Addison’s disease a disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol, a hormone that helps your body respond to stress. Lack of cortisol production can cause addisonian crisis, which is characterized by low blood pressure and can be fatal without proper treatment.
The treatment for low blood pressure varies depending on the cause. In severe cases, someone might need intravenous therapy to deliver fluids into the veins and raise blood pressure. In critical situations, such as septic shock, doctors may use drug therapies either orally or through an IV to quickly raise blood pressure.
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How Is Blood Pressure Measured
Doctors use a blood pressure cuff to check your blood pressure. When blood pressure is checked, two numbers are recorded. For example, your blood pressure might be 120/80, called “120 over 80.”
The higher number is the highest pressure in the arteries, which happens when your heart pushes the blood out
The lower number is the lowest pressure in the arteries, which happens when your heart is relaxed just before it begins to start to push blood out
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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How Does The Body Maintain Normal Blood Pressure
Baroreceptors are small nerve cells within arteries close to the heart that help regulate blood pressure. Baroreceptors communicate with the kidneys, arteries, veins, and heart to increase, decrease, or maintain blood pressure, as needed. The function of the baroreceptors is to ensure that sufficient blood reaches the organs and tissues of the body.
Causes And Risk Factors
CausesSome of the common causes of low BP are:
- A sudden change in body position such as standing from a sitting or lying down position.
- A sudden decrease in BP post eating is more common in older adults. This occurs one to two hours after having a high-carbohydrate meal. Alcohol consumption, along with a high carbohydrate meal, can make this condition worse.
- A sudden decrease in BP if an individual is standing for a long time.
- Few individuals may naturally have low BP due to genetics.
- Intense emotions, such as pain or fear.
- Heart diseases
- Thyroid problems
- Exercise regularly
- Optimize salt intake
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
The first and most common symptom that your blood pressure is too low, Dr. Lajoie says, is lightheadedness and fainting. Some people also feel fatigue with low blood pressure.
The most common reason to become dizzy or faint is that the systolic blood pressure is temporarily too low to allow adequate blood flow to the brain. “This usually occurs when the systolic pressure is less than 80,” Dr. Lajoie explains.
According to the AHA, low blood pressure can also cause the following symptoms:
Living With Low Blood Pressure
Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure. Your doctor can recommend steps you can take to manage your low blood pressure. These actions can help control the condition:
Drink more water. This can help avoid dehydration.
Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure.
Avoid alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, and alcohol changes how medicines work in your body.
Slow down. Take your time when standing up. If lying down, sit up first. Then wiggle your feet and move your legs. This will increase circulation and get your heart rate up so that you dont feel lightheaded when you stand up.
If your medicine and lifestyle changes do not reduce your low blood pressure symptoms, talk with your doctor about other changes you can make.
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