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.
What Is Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is the force inside your blood vessels when your heart beats and relaxes. This force is measured in millimeters of mercury and is represented as two numbers.
The upper number, called your systolic pressure, is measured when your heart beats. The lower number, called your diastolic pressure, is measured when your heart relaxes between beats.
High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease or stroke, but low blood pressure can also be a problem.
The medical term for low blood pressure is hypotension. If you have hypotension, your systolic pressure measurement is under 90 mm Hg and your diastolic number is under 60 mm Hg. Doctors have started to raise concerns specifically about diastolic blood pressure below 60.
Some people can have low diastolic pressure even when their systolic pressure is typical. This condition is called isolated diastolic hypotension. Low diastolic blood pressure may be particularly dangerous for your heart.
Unlike the rest of your body, which receives blood when your heart pumps, the muscles of your heart receive blood when your heart relaxes.
If your diastolic blood pressure is too low, your heart muscles wont get enough oxygenated blood. This can lead to weakening of your heart, a condition called diastolic heart failure.
You may be at higher risk of this type of heart failure if you have coronary heart disease, which is narrowing of your heart arteries.
What Is Low Blood Pressure
Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure .
A blood pressure reading appears as two numbers. The first and higher of the two is a measure of systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood. The second number measures diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 . In healthy people, low blood pressure without any symptoms is not usually a concern and does not need to be treated. But low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying problem — especially in the elderly — where it may cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.
Chronic low blood pressure with no symptoms is almost never serious. But health problems can occur when blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain is deprived of an adequate blood supply. This can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. Sudden drops in blood pressure most commonly occur in someone who’s rising from a lying down or sitting position to standing. This kind of low blood pressure is known as postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Another type of low blood pressure can occur when someone stands for a long period of time. This is called neurally mediated hypotension.
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What Should Be Avoided
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.
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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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.
A Reaction To Medication
An adverse reaction to prescribed or over-the-counter medicine can drop blood pressure unexpectedly. Diuretics and other drugs designed to treat hypertension, some anti-depressants, and medication to help with erectile dysfunction can lower blood pressure to unsafe levels. You can also experience a drop in blood pressure if you combine high blood pressure medications with others.
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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.
Effective Home Remedies To Treat Low Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is cut out to be a villain, but did you know low blood pressure can be troublesome too? If your blood pressure is below 90/60 mmHg, its considered to be low.1 If blood pressure dips too low, it can reduce the amount of blood that flows to your brain and other organs. This can lead to symptoms like dizziness, fainting, nausea, blurred vision, and palpitations.
Low blood pressure comes in more than one form. For instance, some people experience low blood pressure when they change position for example, when they stand up . You could also experience the symptoms after you have a meal or when you stand for long periods of time .2
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How Can You Manage Your High Blood Pressure
Treatment of high blood pressure often starts with lifestyle changes, including decreasing salt in your diet, losing weight if necessary, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol use, and regular exercise.
In addition to lifestyle changes, medications are often used to lower blood pressure. There are several types of medications that treat high blood pressure with each type of medication having benefits and risks that should be carefully weighed by you and your health care provider. Most people take more than one medication in order to bring their blood pressure down to their treatment goal.
Your blood pressure medication should begin to work within days. However, because high blood pressure is a long-lasting medical condition that often has little or no symptoms, remembering to take your medications can be a challenge. Combination medicines, long-acting or once-a-day medications, may be used to decrease the burden of taking numerous medications and help ensure medications regularly. Once started, the medication should be used until your doctor tells you to stop.
Controlling your blood pressure should be part of a healthy living plan and lifelong task. The damage that high blood pressure causes your internal organs does not cause any symptoms until serious damage has been done.
How Do I Know If I Have Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is not always a sign of a problem. But if you have symptoms of low blood pressure, your doctor can diagnose the condition and uncover the cause. Symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness when you stand up from sitting or lying down — with a decrease in your blood pressure — may indicate a condition called postural hypotension. A wide range of underlying conditions may also cause your symptoms. It’s important to identify the cause of low blood pressure so appropriate treatment can be given.
The doctor will look at your medical history, age, specific symptoms, and the conditions under which the symptoms occurred. They will do a physical exam and may repeatedly check your blood pressure and pulse rate — after you’ve been lying down for a few minutes, right after you stand up, and within a few minutes after you stand quietly.
Other tests may be performed, such as an ECG to measure heart rate and rhythm and an echocardiogram . You may also have blood tests to look for anemia or problems with your blood sugar levels.
More sophisticated home ECG monitoring may be necessary to check for heart problems that come and go or an irregular heart beat that can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly.
An exercise stress test or, less commonly, an electrophysiology test may also be helpful.
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Is Low Blood Pressure A Problem
For some people, low blood pressure is a sign of good health. These are generally people who are very fit and who have a slow pulse. For other people, low blood pressure is a problem.
Often, people with low blood pressure can be expected to lead longer lives.
However, people who experience continuing symptoms of low blood pressure should see a doctor. Sudden, severe low blood pressure can be associated with serious medical conditions.
Causes Of Diastolic Hypotension By Itself
There are three known causes of isolated diastolic hypotension:
- Alpha-blocker medications. These blood pressure medications work by causing your blood vessels to open up . Because they lower diastolic pressure more than systolic pressure, they may cause isolated diastolic hypotension. Common brand names include Minipress and Cardura.
- Aging. As we age, we lose the elasticity of our arteries. For some older adults, arteries may become too stiff to spring back between heartbeats, causing diastolic blood pressure to be low.
- Too much salt in your diet. Dietary salt can decrease elasticity of your blood vessels. If you take in too much salt, you may increase your risk of low diastolic blood pressure.
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Salt Water As A Instant Remedy For Low Blood Pressure:
Salt water helps to treat low blood pressure because the sodium content in the salt water enhances the blood pressure level. Drink a glass of salt water and blood pressure level will increase quickly. However, taking excess salt should be avoided because it may turn out to be unhealthy. Enhance the salt consumption in your daily diet and this is a wonderful home remedy for treating low blood pressure.
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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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
- 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
What Does It Mean If You Have Low Blood Pressure Topic Guide
- Low blood pressure is usually not a problem as long as a person has no troublesome symptoms. Causes of low blood pressure include prolonged bed rest, pregnancy, decreases in blood volume from major trauma, heart problems, certain medications, endocrine problems, severe infection , severe allergic reaction , and others.
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How Is Low Blood Pressure Treated
If your blood pressure is naturally low and isnt causing you any problems it probably wont need any treatment. If you have symptoms and your doctor or nurse feels that you would benefit from treatment, they will try to find the cause of your low blood pressure so that they can find the best way to treat it.
The treatments will vary depending on the cause.
- A change in medications. If your GP thinks that your blood pressure is caused by a medication youre taking they might want to try an alternative medication or a different dose.
- Hormone replacement. If your low blood pressure is caused by a change in certain hormones, for example if your adrenal glands have been damaged, you may be referred to a specialist called an endocrinologist. They might prescribe hormone replacement medication.
- Medicines to stimulate your nerves. If you have a neurological condition, you may be given medicines to stimulate the nerves.
- Medicines for low blood pressure. These medicines narrow your blood vessels or expand the volume of your blood to raise your blood pressure. These are very rarely needed, as the treatments listed above and the changes you can make for yourself are usually enough.
What Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
Factors that can cause low blood pressure include:
- Medical conditions like heart problems, hormonal problems, septic shock, neurological disorders, anemia etc.
- Certain medications for instance, some antidepressants or beta blockers prescribed for heart conditions
- Blood pressure tends to drop during the first twenty-four weeks of pregnancy.34
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Improving Health With Current Research
Learn about the following ways the NHLBI continues to translate current research into improved health for people with abnormally low blood pressure. Research on this topic is part of the NHLBIs broader commitment to advancing heart and vascular disease scientific discovery.
- Testing Treatments for Cardiac Arrest and Trauma. The Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium clinical trial network tested treatments to address high morbidity and mortality rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and severe traumatic injury. ROC investigators compared different strategies for supplemental fluids in trauma patients who have low blood pressure. Other ROC studies found a link between low blood pressure readings and the need for emergency procedures.
- Understanding How Low Blood Pressure Affects Diverse Populations. NHLBI-supported researchers are studying low blood pressure in different populations. Investigators in the NHLBIs Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study found that people who have low blood pressure when standing up, known as orthostatic hypotension, are at higher risk for stroke. In a follow-up study of NHLBIs Honolulu Heart Program, researchers found older Japanese men who had orthostatic hypotension were nearly twice as likely to die within the next four years as those who did not have orthostatic hypotension. NHLBIs Cardiovascular Health Study found that orthostatic hypotension was common in older adults, increases with age, and is linked to cardiovascular diseases.
What To Eat To Help Raise Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure can be caused by a variety of factors, including medication side effects and conditions like diabetes. What you eat also has a notable impact on your heart health and blood pressure. Here are eight diet tips that might help raise your blood pressure back up to a healthy level.
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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.