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.
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.
How Is It Diagnosed
Often people learn that they have low blood pressure when their doctor checks it. Or you may find that you have low blood pressure when you check it at home.
To check for the causes of your low blood pressure, your doctor will ask about your past health, your symptoms, and the medicines you take. He or she will do a physical exam and may do other tests. Your doctor may check for another health problem that could be causing your low blood pressure.
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What Causes Low Blood Pressure
The cause of low blood pressure isnât always clear. It may be associated with the following:
Who Gets Postural Hypotension?
Postural hypotension, which is low blood pressure when standing up suddenly, can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, such as dehydration, lack of food, or being overly fatigued. It can also be influenced by genetic make-up, aging, medication, dietary and psychological factors, and acute triggers, such as infection and allergy.
Postural hypotension occurs most frequently in people who are taking drugs to control high blood pressure . It can also be related to pregnancy, strong emotions, hardening of the arteries , or diabetes. The elderly are particularly affected, especially those who have high blood pressure or autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
Hypotension after meals is a common cause of dizziness and falls after eating. This is most common after large meals containing a lot of carbohydrates. ItÃ¢s believed to be caused by blood pooling into the vessels of the stomach and intestines.
Common causes of naturally occurring postural hypotension include:
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What Is Essential High Blood Pressure In Women
Essential hypertension is also known as primary high blood pressure. Over 9 out of 10 cases of hypertension are essential, and this is the kind of hypertension most people are referring to when they talk about hypertension or high blood pressure. This kind of hypertension is the direct result of factors such as lifestyle choices or genetic factors. Related lifestyle factors can include the following.
- Being overweight
- Lack of sleep
In contrast to essential high blood pressure, secondary high blood pressure is high blood pressure that occurs due to the effects of another condition or medical cause, such as kidney disease, adrenal disease, or medications, such as some over-the-counter painkillers and oral contraceptive pills .
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Normal Blood Pressure For Children
Normal BP ranges vary in children by age. The University of Iowa Stead Family Childrens Hospital provides this chart:
|Normal Blood Pressure for Children|
|112128 mm Hg||6680 mm Hg|
What is considered healthy for your child also varies by height, age, and sex. You can use Baylor College of Medicine’s calculator to see if your childs blood pressure reading is in a healthy range.
Managing Stress For Women
You may not be surprised to learn that stress can contribute to increases in blood pressure, both in the moment and over time. Stress from jobs, relationships, financial pressures, and other aspects of life can be harmful. Some of it is unavoidable, but the good news is that research suggests that how you respond to stress affects how much harm the stress does.
Learning to manage stress can be well worth it. These are some common and helpful approaches:
- Exercise regularly
- Relax with stretching, massage, or a hot bath
- Use deep breathing techniques
- Talk yourself through it
- Phone a friend
It can be hard to learn how to manage stress, but practice helps. Lark health coach can also help by letting you identify when you are stressed and offering suggestions for staying calm and in control in the moment.
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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
Get With The Guidelines
In 2017, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other health organizations published revised guidelines for blood pressure.
They were updated âbecause research suggested that you can have complications from high blood pressure at lower levels than previously thought,â says Laura Andromalos, RD, CDE, nutrition program manager at Northwest Weight and Wellness Center in Everett, Washington, and a certified diabetes educator coach in the telehealth setting for Cecelia Health. âPreviously, adults over 65 years old were considered to have high blood pressure at levels over 150/80 mmHg.â
We now know that the ideal of 120/80 lowers the risks for both heart attacks and strokes, according to the American Heart Association. However, each person is unique, so at every age, itâs important to work with your doctor to be sure your numbers fall within a range that is ideal for you and your overall health, Dr. Vaishnava says.
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How To Take Blood Pressure
You can take your blood pressure at home using a wrist blood pressure monitor or an upper arm cuff blood pressure monitor. Experts typically recommend upper arm cuffs because they are the most accurate. Upper arm cuffs can come with either a manual or digital monitor. Both work well, but if youre measuring your blood pressure on your own regularly, a digital one will likely be easiest to use correctly.
To take your blood pressure accurately with a digital upper arm cuff, start by sitting quietly in an upright position for a few minutes, allowing your body a moment to relax. Be mindful to uncross your legs and ankles, as well as use comfortable support for your back.
With the monitor sitting on a table in front of you, place your arm next to itat approximately heart leveland place the cuff around your bare upper arm about one inch above your elbow. Secure the cuff so that you can only slide a fingertip under the top edge.
Next, simply turn on the monitor, press the start button, and take normal breaths as the cuff inflates and deflates, measuring your blood pressure and producing your reading on the screen.
What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Low Blood Pressure
In some people, particularly relatively healthy ones, symptoms of weakness, dizziness, and fainting raise the suspicion of low blood pressure. In others, an event often associated with low blood pressure, for example, a heart attack, has occurred to cause the symptoms.
Measuring blood pressure in both the lying and standing positions usually is the first step in diagnosing low blood pressure. In patients with symptomatic low blood pressure, there often is a marked drop in blood pressure upon standing, and patients may even develop orthostatic symptoms. The heart rate often increases. The goal is to identify the cause of the low blood pressure. Sometimes the causes are readily apparent . At other times, the cause may be identified by testing:
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Low Blood Pressure Also Known As Hypotension Is When You Have A Blood Pressure Level That Is Below The Normal Range
If your blood pressure is naturally low, this probably wont cause you any problems and wont need treating. In fact, the lower your blood pressure, the lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Low blood pressure can sometimes be caused by medications or can be a sign of another health problem. This can sometimes cause problems such as falls, fainting and feeling dizzy, so it might need looking into and treating. Speak to your doctor or nurse if youre worried about low blood pressure.
Plus, take a look at the animation below on how to manage low blood pressure when you stand up.
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.
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Blood Pressure In The Elderly: How Low Is Too Low
A recent publication in a fine peer-reviewed medical journal of the SPRINT study proved that lowering our blood pressure to the old target of 120/80 or less led to fewer heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. There was no question on what to do with younger people but to lower their blood pressure more aggressively to these levels. Debates arose in the medical community about the ability to lower it that much and would we be able to add enough medication and convince the patients to take it religiously or not to meet these stringent recommendations?
There was less clarity in the baby boomer elderly growing population of men and women who were healthy and over 75 years of age. The thought was that maybe we need to keep their blood pressure a bit higher because we need to continue to perfuse the brain cells of these aging patients.
A study performed in the west coast of the United States using actual brain autopsy material hinted that with aggressive lowering of the blood pressure, patients were exhibiting signs and symptoms of dementia but their ultimate brain biopsies did not support that clinical diagnosis. In fact, the brain autopsies suggested that we were not getting enough oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the brain because of aggressive lowering of blood pressure. Maintain blood pressure higher we were told using a systolic BP of 150 or lower as a target.
Steven Reznick is an internal medicine physician and can be reached at Boca Raton Concierge Doctor.
About Heart And Vascular Institute
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.
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What Are The Treatments For Low Blood Pressure
The treatments for low blood pressure depend on what caused the condition. Your doctor will work with you to address the cause of the hypotension. In severe cases of hypotension, your doctor may give you IV fluids to raise your blood pressure.
Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age and the type of hypotension, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following: dietary changes, lifestyle changes and/or medications.
To make dietary changes, your doctor might tell you to:
- Stay hydrated by drinking more water throughout the day.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Increase your salt intake slightly because sodium raises blood pressure.
- Eat smaller, healthy meals and limit carbohydrates.
You can take several steps to avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend that you make the following lifestyle changes:
- Wear compression stockings.
- Get up slowly after youve been sitting or lying down.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Sit up and breathe deeply for a few minutes before getting out of bed.
Your doctor might prescribe medications like:
Living With Low Blood Pressure
Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure. Your doctor can recommend steps you can take to manage your low blood pressure. These actions can help control the condition:
Drink more water. This can help avoid dehydration.
Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure.
Avoid alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, and alcohol changes how medicines work in your body.
Slow down. Take your time when standing up. If lying down, sit up first. Then wiggle your feet and move your legs. This will increase circulation and get your heart rate up so that you dont feel lightheaded when you stand up.
If your medicine and lifestyle changes do not reduce your low blood pressure symptoms, talk with your doctor about other changes you can make.
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Choosing A Blood Pressure Monitor
If you’re planning to take your blood pressure at home, it’s important to have a reliable blood pressure monitor. The AHA recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor, but there are other options.
When selecting a blood pressure monitor, consider the following:
- Fit: To ensure a proper fit, measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
- Number of people: If more than one person will be using the monitor, make sure to choose one that fits everyone.
- Features: Some blood pressure monitors offer extra tech features, like Bluetooth and app connectivity. If you don’t think you’ll benefit from these extras, go ahead and choose one that is efficient, easy to use, and more affordable.
- Budget: High-quality blood pressure monitors vary dramatically in price, from around $25 to well over $100. Keep in mind that a good monitor is a great investment and that you will be using it daily for several years.
- Other considerations: The AHA notes that when selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant person, or child, you should make sure it is validated for these conditions.
If you need help selecting an at-home device, check out these blood pressure monitors, which were vetted by the Verywell team based on the above criteria.
Women Have A Lower Range Of ‘normal’ Blood Pressure Than Men
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
- A new study shows that women have a lower ‘normal’ blood pressure range compared to men.
A new study from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai shows that women have a lower “normal” blood pressure range compared to men. The findings were published today in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation.
Currently, established blood pressure guidelines state that women and men have the same normal healthy range of blood pressure. But the new research shows there are differences in normal blood pressure between the sexes.
“Our latest findings suggest that this one-size-fits-all approach to considering blood pressure may be detrimental to a woman’s health,” said Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, MMSc, associate professor of Cardiology and director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute and senior author of the study. “Based on our research results, we recommend that the medical community reassess blood pressure guidelines that do not account for sex differences.”
The first number in a blood pressure reading is called the systolic pressure and measures the force of the blood against the artery walls as your heart beats. The second number is the diastolic pressure, the blood pressure against the artery walls between heartbeats.
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