What To Do If You Experience A Sudden Drop In Blood Pressure
A single low blood pressure reading is no cause to be concerned unless you experience other symptoms.
A sudden drop in blood pressure as little as a drop from 120 to 100 in your systolic number can be dangerous if it triggers dizziness and fainting. Such symptoms can be a sign of an underlying problem that may need medical attention.
You should keep a record of your activities and when symptoms happen to discuss them with your doctor. If you experience any low blood pressure symptoms related to shock, you should seek immediate medical attention.
How To Raise Your Blood Pressure
Some of the healthy tips that can prevent or help you to raise your blood pressure include the following.
Q What Can I Do To Prevent Low Blood Pressure
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Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension doesnt normally generate any outwardly visible symptoms. It can take years or even decades for the condition to reach a level severe enough for symptoms to become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may not even be hypertension, but some other ailment. The symptoms that have been associated with hypertension, however, can include:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. While this may not mean you have high blood pressure, waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear can be fatal. The surest way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Make sure your doctor takes your blood pressure during every visit.
Recent Findings Raise Concerns About Lowering Diastolic Blood Pressure The Second Number In Your Blood Pressure Reading Too Far
More of us than ever before are taking medications to lower our blood pressure. Longstanding guidelines suggest that most people should aim for a systolic blood pressure no higher than 140 millimeters of mercury . But in 2015, the results of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial suggested that reaching a target of 120 mm Hg could further reduce the risks associated with high blood pressure, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and death.
Yet reaching that lower target often requires three blood pressure medications, which can increase the likelihood of side effects. Two observational studies and one clinical trial have raised concerns about lowering blood pressure particularly diastolic pressure too far. Diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes. “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.
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Drink Plenty Of Water
Dehydration can sometimes lead to low blood pressure. Some people may have hypotension even with mild dehydration.
You can also get dehydrated by losing water too quickly. This can happen through vomiting, severe diarrhea, fever, strenuous exercise, and excess sweating.
Medications such as diuretics may also cause dehydration. Drink more water by using a portable water bottle. Use an alarm or timer to remind you to take a sip.
Diagnosis Of Low Blood Pressure
A familiar instrument for diagnosis of low blood pressure is a sphygmomanometer, which has an inflatable cuff that goes around your forearm while you are sitting and supported. This cuff is worn at the heart level and must be the right size since a too large or too small cuff would result in the wrong measurement.
The inflation and deflation causes the blood vessels to constrict and relax in conjunction, and a doctor uses a stethoscope near the crook of your elbow to determine when the blood flow is constricted, and the time that it starts. The pressure diagnosed at these two times is what is noted as your blood pressure.
The pulse rate is also an important indicator of any abnormalities in blood pressure, and a doctor may repeatedly measure your pulse in addition to measuring blood pressure. A rapid, shallow beating of the pulse may indicate inability of the heart to pump adequate blood through the body. Sometimes, an electrocardiogram may also be used for accurate measurement of the heart rate, or a blood sugar test may be prescribed to determine any symptoms or effects of low blood pressure. A “tilt-table test” that simulates a change in posture while lying down on a table may also be prescribed to check for orthostatic hypotension.
Diagnosis depends on the outcome of these tests and is relatively simple to do. Medical history is also a consideration when determining if a person has signs of low blood pressure, or a more short-term incident.
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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.
Changing The Diameter Of Arterioles And Veins
Muscle tissue within the walls of arterioles allow these blood vessels to widen or narrow . The more constricted arterioles are, the greater their resistance to blood flow and the higher the blood pressure. Constriction of arterioles increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through the narrower space. Conversely, dilation of arterioles reduces resistance to blood flow, thus reducing blood pressure. The degree to which arterioles are constricted or dilated is affected by
Nerves that contract smooth muscle in the arterioles, thus reducing their diameter
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Veins also play a role in the control of blood pressure, although their effect on blood pressure is much less than that of arterioles. Veins dilate and constrict to change how much blood they can hold . When veins constrict, their capacity to hold blood is reduced, allowing more blood to return to the heart from which it is pumped into the arteries. As a result, blood pressure increases. Conversely, when veins dilate, their capacity to hold blood is increased, allowing less blood to return to the heart. As a result, blood pressure decreases.
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What Puts People With Diabetes At A Higher Risk Of Bouts Of Low Blood Pressure
Diabetes and age-related changes can result in damage to your nerves involved in monitoring blood pressure as well as your reflexes that help constrict blood vessels and increase heart rate to compensate for standing up or eating a meal. Your nerve sensors in your arteries that monitor blood pressure may not work as effectively if you have diabetes especially if you have poor blood sugar control making them more prone to a drastic drop in blood pressure.
The Future Of Syncope
Standardized national registries and large databases are needed to gather more data to better understand the incidence and prevalence of syncope, patient risks and outcomes, set lifestyle policies and improve healthcare delivery.
Some studies have shown that with recurrent episodes of fainting, the quality of life is reduced in both adults and in pediatric patients, however more well designed studies that incorporates quality of life, work loss and functional capacity are needed. In addition, more studies incorporate quality of life, work loss and functional capacity as possible results and better understand the relationship of syncope symptoms, causes and underlying diseases to various outcomes.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
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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.
Be Careful With Supplements Or Natural Remedies
There are no special pills, vitamins or drinks that can substitute for prescription medications and lifestyle modifications. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter drug or supplement that claims to lower your blood pressure. They may not work as advertised and/or interfere with other medications. In fact, some can even raise your blood pressure.
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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.
How Do You Treat Low Blood Oxygen Levels
Treatments for hypoxemia aim to increase the oxygen saturation of your blood. Treatments include medications and therapies that are intended to address the underlying causes of the low oxygen levels in your blood. In a more severe case, your doctor may also prescribe supplemental oxygen therapy.
These self-care suggestions can also help with hypoxemia:
If you smoke, quit.
Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Drink plenty of water.
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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.
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
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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.
When To See Your Gp
You should see your GP if you have frequent symptoms of low blood pressure. Your GP can measure your blood pressure and help identify any underlying causes of the problem.
All adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every five years. If you haven’t had yours measured or don’t know what your reading is, ask your practice nurse or GP to check it.
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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.