When Blood Pressure Dips Too Low
To avoid feeling dizzy or faint when you first get up in the morning, pump your legs a few times to get your blood flowing before standing up.Image: Thinkstock
Do you ever feel dizzy or faint when you stand up? Here’s one common reasonand what to do about it.
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- Research health conditions
- Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Kidneys
Kidneys participate in blood pressure control by regulating urine production. When kidneys pull more water out of the blood, blood pressure decreases. When the kidneys decrease urine output, water remains in the blood and blood pressure increases. The action of the kidneys on blood pressure is slow — acting over hours to days — compared to baroreceptor control and other systems that influence blood pressure very quickly.
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.
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What Can You Do To Help Relieve Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Depending on the type of low blood pressure you have, you may be able to relieve some of your symptoms by:
- Eating a healthy diet with fewer carbohydrates and smaller meals.
- Drinking more water and avoiding alcohol.
- Getting up slowly after youve been sitting or lying down.
- Focusing on breathing a few times before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
Severe Hypotension Related To Shock
While some of the causes of severe hypotension in shock may also cause orthostatic hypotension, the blood pressure drop is much more severe with the formerand it doesn’t return to normal.
The causes of hypotensive shock include:
- Major blood loss
- Severe fluid loss from diarrhea, burns, or overuse of diuretics
- Cardiogenic shock due heart attack, arrhythmia, or pulmonary embolism
- Vasodilatory shock seen in head injury, liver failure, poisoning, or anaphylaxis.
Shock is a medical emergency and you must call 9-1-1 to get medical help.
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Gut Bacteria And Flavonoid
Your gut microbiome may help support the blood pressure-lowering effects of flavonoid-rich foods like berries, apples, pears, and wine, a new study suggests.
Eating more foods packed with flavonoids may help lower your systolic blood pressure the top number that reflects the pressure blood exerts against artery walls when the heart beats especially when you also have a greater diversity of bacteria in your gut, according to a study published in .
Our gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their cardioprotective effects, and this study provides evidence to suggest these blood pressure-lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet, says senior study author Aedín Cassidu, PhD, a professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
For the study, researchers examined data on 904 adult participants from the German PopGen biobank network, including information on food intake, gut microbiome, and blood pressure. Participants reported how often they ate 112 different foods, and researchers then used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to identify flavonoid-rich foods and calculate total daily flavonoid intake.
Favorite Online Support Networks
This online support group from the American Heart Association allows you to connect with others going through an array of heart issues, including hypertension. Ask questions, share your story, and get peer support from others going through similar experiences to take control of their heart health.
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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.
Changing The Volume Of Blood
The higher the volume of blood in the arteries, the higher the blood pressureâas long as the width of the arteries remains constant. The volume of blood in the arteries is affected by
How much fluid is in the body
Whether very small arteries leak fluid
How much fluid the kidneys remove from the blood to excrete in the urine
Certain drugs, particularly diuretics
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Treatment For High Pulse
Treatment for high pulse will vary according to a range of factors.
It is helpful to try to identify when the pulse first began to rise. Some episodes of a high pulse may be temporary. For example, if a person develops a high pulse after moving from a prone to a standing position too quickly, the heart might beat more quickly to compensate for gravitys effects.
People who experience bouts of low blood pressure or high pulse while moving from a prone to standing position could try to slow down these movements to help avoid the issue.
Exercising may also lead to a high heart rate, especially if a person is not very fit. This is because the heart may start beating faster even after a person attempts minor exercise.
If a person notices that their heart is beating faster, finding ways to calm the body and brain may help. A person can try slowing down their breathing rate or practicing guided meditations to help them relax and reduce heart rate.
If the heart rate does not go back to normal or if a person is worried, contact a doctor for a full diagnosis.
Monitoring And Controlling Blood Pressure
Baroreceptors are specialized cells located within arteries that act as blood pressure sensors. Those in the large arteries of the neck and chest are particularly important. When baroreceptors detect a change in blood pressure, they trigger the body to react to maintain a steady blood pressure. Nerves carry signals from these sensors and the brain to
The heart, which is signaled to change the rate and force of heartbeats . This change is one of the first, and it corrects low blood pressure quickly.
The arterioles, which are signaled to constrict or dilate .
The veins, which are signaled to constrict or dilate .
The kidneys, which are signaled to change the amount of fluid excreted and to change the amount of hormones that they produce . This change takes a long time to produce results and thus is the slowest mechanism for how the body controls blood pressure.
Nonetheless, the ways that the body can monitor and control blood pressure have limitations. For example, if a person loses a lot of blood quickly, the body cannot compensate quickly enough, blood pressure falls, and organs may begin to malfunction .
In addition, as people age, the body responds to changes in blood pressure more slowly.
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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.
How To Stop Blood Pressure Getting Too Low
Low blood pressure itself is generally not a cause for concern until it gets too low and begins causing symptoms. Managing any issues that influence blood pressure may help prevent these numbers from dropping too low.
For example, people taking high blood pressure medications should monitor their dosage and blood pressure to be sure their numbers do not drop too low.
If their blood pressure starts dropping lower than usual, they should contact a doctor. The doctor may want to adjust the medication or check for interactions with anything else the person may be taking.
Managing other individual risk factors from underlying conditions may also help prevent blood pressure from getting too low.
- wearing compression stockings
Doctors may also recommend changes in some medication, such as adjusting medications for high blood pressure if they lead to dangerously low blood pressure.
Doctors will discuss any and all treatments with the patient in each case, and their exact recommendations may vary.
What’s The Difference Between Blood Pressure And Pulse
While your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving through your blood vessels, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.
- They are two separate measurements and indicators of health.
- For people with high blood pressure , theres no substitute for measuring blood pressure.
Research And Statistics: How Many People Have High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a very common condition, in both developing countries and industrialized nations.
According to the AHA, more than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure. That equates to nearly half of all adults in the United States.
High blood pressure is more common in men than in women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. About 47 percent of men in the United States have high blood pressure, compared with 43 percent of women.
Only one in four Americans with hypertension have the condition under control.
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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.
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.
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Prevention And Management Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
There are some things you can do to help prevent and manage low diastolic pressure.
- Try to keep your salt intake to between 1.5 and 4 grams per day. An ideal number is probably about 3.5 grams. You can do this by reading food labels and avoiding added salt in your diet.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and include whole grains. For protein, stick to lean meats and fish. Avoid fatty foods.
- Drink enough fluids and avoid alcohol, which can increase your risk for dehydration.
- Stay physically active and start an exercise program. Ask your doctor what type and amount of exercise is safe for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If youre overweight, ask your doctor to help you with a safe weight loss plan.
- Dont smoke.
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.
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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.
Try Lifestyle Changes First
There are a number of measuresincluding losing weight, exercising more, cutting back on sodium, and drinking less alcoholthat can sometimes reduce or even eliminate your need for drugs. If your systolic level is moderately elevated , consider drugs only if after six months of serious attempts at diet and lifestyle changes your blood pressure hasnt dropped enough.
If youre 60 or older or you have diabetes or kidney disease and already take blood pressure medications that arent causing side effects, theres no need to change your prescription. But if the effects are bothersome and your levels are under control, ask your doctor about switching your prescription, lowering your dose, or cutting back to one drug.
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What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measure of how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body. Your body is designed to adjust your blood pressure to make sure your organs and tissue receive enough oxygen.
Blood pressure is indicated by two numbers formatted as a fraction, like 120/80. The systolic number indicates how hard your blood pushes when your heart pumps, and the diastolic number measures how hard your blood pushes between heartbeats when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
The Surprising Reasons You Might Be Able To Delay Using Meds To Lower Your Pressureor Not Take Them At All
Been told that your blood pressure is too high? Or maybe youre already on meds to lower yours. Well, you might not have to lower it as much as you once thought. Many experts, including our own at Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, say that millions of Americans dont have to aim quite as low when trying to manage their blood pressure.
That means you might be able to delay or even avoid taking a blood pressure medication, which reduces the risk of side effects and lowers your cost.
The not-so-great news is that it has been more than a year since the advice, from experts convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, came out, but many doctors have not yet adopted the new blood pressure targets. Heres why we think they should, and what it means for you:
Tell us what works for you below!
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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.
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