How Is Low Blood Pressure Treated
If there is an underlying cause for your low blood pressure, and it is giving you problems, you may need treatment for that underlying cause. But if it isnt causing you problems, treatment wont be needed.
Your doctor may advise you to take precautions to prevent episodes of low blood pressure, such as avoiding dehydration, hot showers or standing up too quickly.
Treatment Of Low Blood Pressure
Unless accompanied by other conditions, low blood pressure is usually easy to treat and does not require much medication. Often, a low blood pressure diet may be prescribed, or a change in lifestyle may become necessary. Common recommendations include:
Increased intake of water: Dehydration can cause an electrolyte imbalance resulting in signs of low blood pressure, and care towards adequate hydration would be important, especially in high temperature situations, during fevers or dysentery.
Increased sodium in diet: Salted nuts, cheeses and cured fish and meats are high in sodium content, and would help stabilize blood pressure in case it is very low. Care must be taken to not overdo it, however, and for a balance to be maintained.
Limiting alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption can cause fluctuation in heart rate and limiting its consumption for some time will help alleviate symptoms of low blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals.
Exercise: Light exercises not involving much strain to the body help improve circulation of blood throughout, and keep the heart healthy. In cases of low blood pressure, it is important to be aware of its symptoms such as palpitations and cold skin so that exercising does not aggravate the condition.
Ceasing any aggravating medication:If intake of certain medication is seen to cause dips in blood pressure, your doctor may recommend a substitute for the drug, or even stopping its consumption till pressure is stabilized.
Diagnosis For Low Blood Pressure
Your doctor will check your blood pressure and then ask you questions about any episodes youve experienced to find out if low blood pressure is the cause. Blood work or urinalysis can also provide results that indicate low blood pressure.
If your doctor suspects that another medical condition is lowering your blood pressure, youll need to complete more specific tests to learn more. If another condition is discovered, treating it can have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
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Low Blood Pressure And Pregnancy
A drop in blood pressure is common during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. The circulatory system starts to expand, and hormonal changes cause your blood vessels to dilate.
If you experience low blood pressure symptoms, let your OB-GYN know. You may need to pay more attention to your hydration during this time.
Pregnancy-related low blood pressure usually goes away later on in the pregnancy or shortly after delivery.
Its important to have your blood pressure checked and monitored during pregnancy to eliminate any underlying causes for it, such as anemia or an ectopic pregnancy.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your overall activity level and dietary habits to determine what changes, if any, you should make.
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
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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 .
How To Treat Emergency Low Blood Pressure
What Happens When You Call 911 for a Health Emergency?
When someone calls 911 for a medical emergency, the ambulance calls the ER department and tells the police and he or she calls an ambulance. “We’re running lights and siren with a 67-year-old male. He’s confused, lethargic, has a blood pressure of 80 over 40, a thready pulse , and is sweaty. We’ll be at your door in a couple of minutes.”
The nurses start setting up the equipment to care for the patient. We’ve been through this drill before when someone arrives at the ER with low blood pressure. I hope it’s an easy diagnosis and something that we can treat quickly. IVs are set up, monitor pads ready. The respiratory tech arrives with her machines just in case they are needed. The EMTs unload a man in obvious distress, sweaty, struggling to breathe, and limp. “He’s had a fever for a couple of days with a cough. History of COPD, heart problems, and smokes.”
How Are the Causes of Medical Emergencies Diagnosed?
The diagnosis could be easy, but there are a variety of factors that could be causing this man’s condition. He is in shock his blood pressure is so low there is not enough pressure to provide blood flow and oxygen to his brain. That’s why he is lethargic. No doubt the rest of his organs are at risk too. But why?
What is the Prognosis for the Victim?
The victim’s vital signs are poor.
All bad however, they all are pointing to an infection that perhaps can be fixed with IV fluids.
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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 Happens When Emergency Treatment Begins
The nurses are already in motion, and two IVs have been placed. Fluid is being pumped in. Lab tests and a chest X-ray have been ordered. No time to wait for test results. The patient needs help now. The respiratory tech sets up a BiPAP machine to help support his breathing. It pushes air into the mouth and lungs to try to force air into the lungs. Medication is added to relieve wheezing.
- There is a downside to BiPAP. It can lower the blood pressure for a while as the body gets used to it, but the alternative is to intubate this patient and put him on a ventilator.
The patient has a history of smoking and COPD putting him on a ventilator increases his mortality significantly. He has to hold on so that the medical procedures and tests we are doing can reverse his illness and raise his blood pressure.
- The chest X-ray confirms the diagnosis of pneumonia. Say goodbye to the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. Antibiotics are given.
- The intravenous fluid infusion hasn’t increased the blood pressure yet, but it’s still early.
- He’s tolerating the BiPAP machine, not an easy feat since it feels like sticking your head outside a car window as you go down the road at 50mph.
The good news is that he’s waking up a little bit. While the blood pressure is low, perhaps the fluid is allowing more oxygen delivery to the brain.
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What Are The Side Effects Of The Treatment For Low Blood Pressure
There are no side effects for the lifestyle and dietary changes that can treat hypotension.
The medications used to treat hypotension have several side effects, some of which may be serious. Fludrocortisone can make certain infections worse, so its essential to discuss this medication with your doctor. The most common side effects from fludrocortisone are:
- Increased risk of infection.
The most common side effects from midodrine are:
- Numbness or tingling.
- Goosebumps and chills.
How To Check Your Blood Pressure
You can check your blood pressure:
- at home yourself using a home blood pressure monitor – talk to your GP about home monitors
Low blood pressure is a measurement of 90/60mmHg or lower.
The first number is the highest pressure when your heart beats and pumps blood around your body. The second number is the lowest pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.
See a GP if you have low blood pressure and keep getting symptoms such as dizziness.
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How To Raise Low Blood Pressure
If youre dealing with hypotension, the first step is making an appointment with your doctor. After discussing your medical history, lifestyle, and other factors, your doctor may change your medication or suggest certain lifestyle changes to get to the root of the issue.
Its important not to stop taking any medications or change dosages without talking to a healthcare professional first. The same is true of dietary or other changes.
How Can You Prevent Low Blood Pressure
You may be able to prevent hypotension by making changes to your lifestyle and diet, such as:
- Eating fewer carbohydrates and choosing small, healthy meals.
- Staying hydrated and avoiding alcoholic drinks.
- Rising slowly when youve been sitting or lying down.
- Taking a few deep breaths before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
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What To Do When Your Blood Pressure Drops Too Low
So, what to do when your blood pressure drops too low? If you are experiencing symptoms of very low blood pressure, for example, dizziness or fainting, it is always advisable to seek medical opinion. As there are various factors that can be the reason why your blood pressure drops too low, the condition should be properly evaluated. It is important to assess the situation and rule out any related serious cause like sudden dehydration, internal bleeding, serious infection or an allergic reaction.
Here are some immediate steps that guide on how to raise the blood pressure if it is too low. These include
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Lie with the feet above heart
- Avoid standing for long as it acts as a trigger for hypotension
- Consume salt or salty food
What Causes Resistant Hypertension
Resistant hypertension has many possible causes. Top reasons include consuming too much salt, which can make blood pressure medications less effective and missing doses or adjusting them on your own. Other reasons include
- weight gain
- atherosclerosis causing inflammation in artery walls
- drug interactions
- panic attacks
- high levels of the hormone aldosterone
- kidney problems
- eating black licorice .
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Who Is Affected By Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure can affect people of all ages, although it is more common in older people who are frail or bedridden. Pregnant women and older adults are more likely to have orthostatic hypotension. Children and young adults are most likely to experience neurally mediated hypotension, but they often outgrow it.
Hypotension commonly affects people who:
- Are taking certain medications that cause low blood pressure.
- Have hormonal imbalances or vitamin deficiencies.
- Also have heart problems or liver disease.
Managing Low Blood Pressure
Having low blood pressure once in a while isnt likely a cause for concern.
Tell your doctor about any related symptoms. Keep a journal of your symptoms and what you were doing when they began.
This can help your doctor diagnose the cause of your low blood pressure, especially if youve tried making changes to your diet and lifestyle and still arent seeing your BP at a healthy level.
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Should You Use Herbal Remedies To Treat Low Blood Pressure
Certain herbs like licorice18, arnica 19, guarana20, and Asian ginseng21 have been known to increase blood pressure. However, do keep in mind that these herbs may have significant side effects and may also raise your blood pressure to undesirable levels. High blood pressure, in turn, is associated with serious conditions like heart failure, kidney failure, and stroke. So, on balance, it might not be advisable to use herbal remedies to raise your blood pressure. In case you are considering it, get your doctors go-ahead and have them under the guidance of an expert practitioner.
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.
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Treatment Of Sudden Severe Hypotension
Serious conditions that cause a sudden drop in blood pressure need urgent medical treatment in hospital. Treatment will depend on the cause, but will often include measures to raise blood pressure. Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, these may include:
- fluids given via a drip into a vein
- a blood transfusion or
- medicines to elevate blood pressure.
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.
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How Is Low Blood Pressure Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and take your blood pressure by placing a blood pressure cuff around your upper arm. The cuff will tighten on your arm, and the monitor will measure your systolic and diastolic pressure. A blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm Hg is considered low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure may be a sign of an underlying condition, so your doctor will try to determine what caused your blood pressure to drop. Depending on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may also check your heart using an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, or stress test. Your doctor may also perform blood tests to check for:
- Hormonal imbalances.
Home Remedies And Lifestyle
If your blood pressure is on the low side, making certain changes to your lifestyle can help you raise your blood pressure to healthy levels.
These changes may include:
- Avoid sitting up or standing up quickly: Instead, do it slowly. You can also try moving your legs a bit before trying to sit or stand up to get the blood flowing.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time if possible: This is particularly important if you have neurally mediated hypotension.
- Avoid crossing your legs while sitting: In some cases, this can prevent blood from flowing up and away from your legs.
- Wear compression stockings: The stockings will apply pressure to your legs, helping blood move better. You should consult your doctor before you start to wear compression stockings as a form of treatment.
If you have postural hypotension, also described as orthostatic hypotension, your blood pressure can drop when you get up to sit from a lying position or stand from a lying or sitting position. Always remembering to make slow adjustments in your body position can help.
It’s also important to be careful to avoid falls. Consider having a walker near your bed as you get used to those first steps in the morning.
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