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.
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.
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 blood pressure works.
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What Does Blood Pressure Refer To
Blood pressure refers to the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels and constitutes one of the bodies principal vital signs. The pressure of the circulating blood as blood moves through your arteries, arterioles, capillaries, and veins. The term blood pressure generally refers to your arterial pressure, i.e., the pressure in the larger arteries, arteries being the blood vessels which take blood away from the heart.
Blood pressure is always given as two numbers
- Systolic Pressure
- Diastolic Pressure
When the measurements are written, both are written as one above, or before, the other with the systolic being the first number, for example 120/75 .
Blood pressure measurement is NOT the same as your heart rate or maximum heart rate measurement. Check what your heart rate for your age should be. You can calculate your predicted maximum heart rate by using the calculation: 220 – = Age Predicted Maximum Heart Rate – or see our Target Heart Rate Calculator and Chart.
When Is Low Blood Pressure Too Low Hypotension And More
Some people naturally have low blood pressure, known as hypotension. However, when high blood pressure suddenly becomes low blood pressure, it could be cause for concern.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, may be a sign of good health and of a decreased risk of heart disease. But not always. At times, continually low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure can lead to worrisome symptoms and even serious health problems.
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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.
Treatment Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
Treating isolated diastolic hypotension is more difficult than treating general hypotension. If youre taking an alpha-blocker, your doctor can change you to a different high blood pressure medication.
If you have isolated low diastolic pressure and youre not on blood pressure medication, the only option may be to see your doctor more frequently for checkups and to watch for symptoms of heart failure. Currently, there isnt any medication available to treat isolated diastolic hypotension.
Treatment of general hypotension depends on the cause.
Overtreatment of high blood pressure can be managed by adjusting or changing medications. The goal is to keep the diastolic blood pressure between 60 and 90 mm Hg. Your doctor may also change other medications that cause hypotension.
Dehydration can be treated with fluid replacement. In some cases, you may need medications that increase blood pressure.
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Q What Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
- Nutrition deficiency in the diet
- Certain antidepressants
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.
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What Is Blood Pressure
As blood pumps through the circulatory system, it pushes against the walls of the arteries and veins. Blood pressure is the force of the blood as it presses against the blood vessel walls. It is measured in systolic pressure and diastolic pressure .
Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. Normal blood pressure is considered to be below 120/80 mm Hg. In a blood pressure reading, the top number refers to systolic pressure, and the bottom number refers to the diastolic pressure.
Low Blood Pressure Definition And Facts
- Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is blood pressure low enough that the flow of blood to the organs of the body is inadequate and symptoms and/or signs of low blood flow develop.
- Low pressure alone, without symptoms or signs, usually is not unhealthy.
- The symptoms of low blood pressure include lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. These symptoms are most prominent when individuals go from the lying or sitting position to the standing position .
- Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate flow of blood to the body’s organs can cause strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. The most severe form is shock.
- Common causes of low blood pressure include a reduced volume of blood, heart disease, and medications.
- The cause of low blood pressure can be determined with blood tests, radiologic studies, and cardiac testing to look for heart failure and arrhythmias.
- Treatment of low blood pressure is determined by the cause of the low pressure.
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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.
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.
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What Is Considered Dangerously High Blood Pressure
Blood flows through your arteries, supplying your body’s organs with the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly. The force of your blood against the walls of your arteries is called your blood pressure. Too much pressure can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other health concerns.
When your blood pressure dangerously high, above 180/120, you could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis and might need emergency treatment. There is a chance that dangerously high blood pressure has caused damage to your body’s organs.
What Is Normal Blood Pressure?
Two numbers are used to measure your blood pressure. The top number on a blood pressure reading measures your systolic pressure, or the amount of force your blood puts on the walls of your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number measures diastolic pressure, which is the amount of force your blood puts on the walls of your arteries between heartbeats.
If you have what’s considered “normal” blood pressure, your systolic pressure is 120 or lower. Your diastolic pressure is less than 80.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
A blood pressure reading over 120/80 but lower than 130/80 is considered elevated, while a reading above 130/80 is considered high. If your blood pressure reaches 180/120, you are experiencing what’s called a hypertensive crisis.
What Are the Risks of Dangerously High Blood Pressure?
- Headache, confusion and blurred vision
- Chest pain
How to Improve Your Blood Pressure
Measuring Your Blood Pressure
Healthcare professionals use a stethoscope and a manual sphygmomanometer to measure your blood pressure. Typically they take the reading above your elbow. The sphygmomanometer has a bladder, cuff, bulb, and a gauge. When the bulb is pumped it inflates the bladder inside the cuff, which is wrapped around your arm. This inflation will stop the blood flow in your arteries.
The stethoscope is used to listen for sound of the heartbeat, and no sound indicates that there is no flow. As the pressure is released from the bladder, you will hear the sound of the blood flowing again. That point becomes your blood pressure systolic reading. The diastolic reading is when you hear no sound again, which means that the blood flow is back to normal.
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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.
Causes Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
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.
- The aging process. 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 for low diastolic blood pressure.
There are several common causes of overall hypotension, which would include a low diastolic number.
- Overtreatment of high blood pressure. For some people, especially people over age 60, lowering systolic blood pressure below 120 may cause diastolic pressure to fall below 60.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
If low blood pressure causes a person to pass out , seek treatment right away. Or call 911 or the local emergency number. If the person is not breathing or has no pulse, begin CPR.
- Black or maroon stools
Your provider may recommend certain steps to prevent or reduce your symptoms including:
- Drinking more fluids
- Getting up slowly after sitting or lying down
- Not drinking alcohol
- Not standing for a long time
- Using compression stockings so blood does not collect in the legs
Doctors: Beware Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure When Treating Hypertension
- Low diastolic blood pressure linked to heart damage. –
- Physicians, be aware of not dropping the bottom blood pressure number. –
- Overtreated high blood pressure could be dangerous in certain patients. –
The researchers caution that their findings cannot prove that very low diastolic blood pressure a measure of pressure in arteries between heartbeats when the heart is resting and also the lower number in a blood pressure reading directly causes heart damage, only that there appears to be a statistically significant increase in heart damage risk among those with the lowest levels of diastolic blood pressure.
A summary of the findings was published Aug. 30 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and coincides with the release of a similar analysis at the European Society of Cardiology Meeting by physicians from Hôpital Bichat in Paris, France.
Released last fall, the SPRINT trial showed protective cardiovascular benefits to patients when physicians aggressively treated high blood pressure down to 120/80 millimeters of mercury, with a primary emphasis on keeping systolic pressure the top number, representing arterial pressure when the heart is pumping at no more than 120.
Researchers followed the participants for 21 years in a series of five visits, with the last check-in in 2013. Each visit included blood pressure measurement, and several included blood testing.
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When To See The Doctor
If you have had episodes where you feel faint or have fainted, see your doctor. In many cases, an episode of low blood pressure is nothing to worry about, but some people may have an underlying problem that needs treatment.
Treating low blood pressure will help reduce symptoms and lower the chances of you fainting or falling and injuring yourself.
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.
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About Low Blood Pressure
The heart pumps a constant supply of blood around the body. The blood flows through different networks in the body, for example, arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the blood on the walls of the arteries as the blood flows through them.
It’s measured in millimetres of mercury and recorded as two measurements:
- systolic pressure the pressure when your heart beats and squeezes blood into your arteries
- diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats
For example, if your systolic blood pressure is 120mmHg and your diastolic blood pressure is 80mmHg, your blood pressure is 120 over 80, which is commonly written as 120/80.
Normal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 140/90. If you have a sustained reading of 140/90 or more, you have high blood pressure . This puts you at greater risk of developing serious health conditions, such as heart attack or stroke.
People with a blood pressure reading under 90/60 are usually regarded as having low blood pressure.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure In Elderly Individuals
As long as you feel OK, a low blood pressure reading is generally nothing to worry about. Doctors are not usually concerned about a low BP in otherwise healthy individuals.
So, when is blood pressure too low? You should see your healthcare provider if you experience hypotension symptoms such as:
- Confusion or inability to concentrate
- An irregular or rapid heartbeat
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When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency
If you frequently experience symptoms of low blood pressure, such as dizziness or fainting spells, you should consult a doctor. While low blood pressure, itself, usually isn’t fatal, there are serious medical situations where it is considered an emergency, and you should go to the hospital.
“The likelihood of dying from low blood pressure is low unless it is related to another disease process,” Weinberg says.
For example, a blood infection, or , can result in low blood pressure. Sepsis occurs when the chemicals released by the body to fight an infection trigger widespread inflammation, resulting in blood clotting that reduces blood flow to vital organs, such as your heart, kidneys, and brain. This can progress to septic shock and very low blood pressure, which may be fatal, and should be treated immediately.
Low blood pressure can also be affiliated with Addison’s disease a disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol, a hormone that helps your body respond to stress. Lack of cortisol production can cause addisonian crisis, which is characterized by low blood pressure and can be fatal without proper treatment.
The treatment for low blood pressure varies depending on the cause. In severe cases, someone might need intravenous therapy to deliver fluids into the veins and raise blood pressure. In critical situations, such as septic shock, doctors may use drug therapies either orally or through an IV to quickly raise blood pressure.