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.
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.
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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What Happens If Blood Pressure Medication Is Stopped
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When To See A Doctor
If you have signs or symptoms of shock, seek emergency medical help.
If you have consistently low blood pressure readings but feel fine, your doctor will likely just monitor you during routine exams.
Even occasional dizziness or lightheadedness may be a relatively minor problem the result of mild dehydration from too much time in the sun or a hot tub, for example. Still, it’s important to see your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of low blood pressure because they can point to more-serious problems. It can be helpful to keep a record of your symptoms, when they occur and what you’re doing at the time.
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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How Does Lower Blood Pressure Cause Kidney Failure
When your blood pressure decreases it indicates that there is a change in blood flow throughout the body. A change in blood flow can cause you to experience serious problems with your kidneys. If the blood flow is not corrected, it could result in serious, potentially fatal, problems.
The kidneys are often the first organs to experience problems as a result of low blood pressure. The problems occur because there is a dramatic decrease in blood flow to the kidneys. If the kidneys dont have access to the right amount of blood, they are unable to properly filter the blood or receive enough oxygen to function. Over time these problems from the lower blood pressure result in the kidneys slowly shutting down.
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.
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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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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.
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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Boost Your B12 Intake
Vitamin B12 performs a critical role in helping the body produce healthy red blood cells. Lack of this important vitamin can result in anemia, which lowers blood pressure and can result in excessive bleeding as well as organ and nerve damage. Foods that are rich in vitamin B12 include eggs, chicken, fish like salmon and tuna, and low-fat dairy products.
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 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.
Treatment For Low Blood Pressure
Your GP will go through some simple things you can do to help yourself see the section on self-help above for more information. They may also suggest you increase the salt in your diet. Don’t do this unless your doctor suggests it, as it may affect other health conditions you have.
Your GP may also suggest you wear compression stockings if you have postural hypotension . These can help stop blood from pooling in your legs.
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When Should You Call Your Doctor About Low Blood Pressure
If you have recurring dizziness or fainting, or other symptoms of low blood pressure, you should visit your doctor. Sudden drops in blood pressure can be dangerous. It is important for your doctor to determine why your blood pressure is dropping and treat the cause.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/08/2019.
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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Diagnosis Of Low Blood Pressure
Measuring blood pressure
Tests to determine cause
The doctor measures blood pressure and pulse while the person is lying down for a few minutes. If the blood pressure is not low and the person feels well, the doctor has the person stand up and rechecks the blood pressure right after standing up, and after a few minutes of standing. Other tests may be done to determine the cause of the low blood pressure, such as:
What The Studies Found And What They Mean
In one of the observational studies, published Oct. 16, 2016, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 11,000 adults collected over a period of three decades as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. They found that people who had low diastolic blood pressure were twice as likely to have subtle evidence of heart damage compared with people whose diastolic blood pressure was 80 to 89 mm Hg. Low diastolic values were also linked with a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause over 21 years.
For the second, published Oct. 29, 2016, in The Lancet, researchers analyzed data from CLARIFY, a registry of more than 22,600 people with heart disease from 45 countries. They determined that, compared with people who had systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 70 to 79, people with a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher were more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes, to be hospitalized with heart failure, or to die within a five-year period. But the same was true for heart attacks, heart failure, and death in people with low blood pressure .
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