Symptoms And Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Many different conditions and situations can cause low blood pressure, from standing up too fast to being pregnant. Sometimes, low blood pressure is linked to an underlying problem. Thats why its important to see your doctor right away if you experience the signs of low blood pressure.
Symptoms of low blood pressure can include:
Low blood pressure can be a sign of serious heart, endocrine or neurological conditions. If left untreated, the brain and other vital organs do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need. In extreme cases, this can cause shock, a life-threatening condition.
If you show signs of low blood pressure, your doctor will conduct an exam and may perform tests to determine whats causing the condition. Low blood pressure can occur with many other conditions.
Some causes of low blood pressure are:
Blood Pressure Vs Heart Rate
Blood pressure and heart rate are both important indications of how well your heart is working, but they measure different things. As noted above, blood pressure is the force of your blood flowing through your arteries. By contrast, heart rate is the number of times your heart beats each minute.
In adults, the heart typically beats 60 to 100 times per minute while at rest. But as with blood pressure, a healthy heart rate will differ between individuals. For instance, a pulse below 60 beats per minute is slower than normal, but it might not cause any issues for you.
However, in some situations, a low pulse means that the heart is not circulating enough blood to satisfy the body’s needs. That can cause you to feel dizzy and weak. A pulse in the 30s is a dangerously low heart rate and should be investigated.
The relationship between blood pressure and heart rate is complex. If you’re concerned about your numbers, see your doctor.
What Does It Mean To Have High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is when your blood pressure is permanently higher than normal. High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, especially heart attacks and strokes.
Its possible to have high blood pressure without knowing, so its important to keep an eye on it by getting your heart health checked regularly by a health professional.
If you do have high blood pressure, you can help manage it with some simple changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a heart healthy diet and exercising more. Your doctor might also recommend some medications to keep it under control.
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What Are The Different Blood Pressure Categories
Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types, namely:
Normal: Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be normal.
Elevated: When blood pressure readings consistently range from 120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, it is known as elevated blood pressure. People with elevated blood pressure are at risk of high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.
Hypertension stage I: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic. Doctors may prescribe blood pressure medications and some lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Hypertension stage II: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 140/90 mm Hg or higher. The doctors may prescribe a combination of both medications and lifestyle changes.
Hypertensive crisis: This is the most critical condition and requires emergency medical attention. In this condition, the blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mm Hg. Contact the physician immediately if the following symptoms are experienced:
- Difficulty speaking
What Is The Ideal Blood Pressure
Blood pressure readings are calculated using one number over another: systolic blood pressure over diastolic. The blood pressure monitor shows measurements in millimetres of mercury, appearing as mmHg. Everyones blood pressure will be slightly different and you would need to discuss with a medical professional as to whats safe for you.
The normal blood pressure range for adults comes in between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. This means that anything below 90/60mmHg mark constitutes low blood pressure , while anything above 140/90mmHg indicates high blood pressure as this is the threshold where a medical professional would actively monitor your blood pressure.
Knowing these numbers can help make you more aware of your health, and may help you to stay on top of your blood pressure
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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 Is The Low Blood Pressure Range Before Death
Blood pressure readings have two numbers. The top number is the systolic blood pressure, which indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against artery walls as the heart beats. The lower number indicates how much pressure the blood is exerting against artery walls while the heart is at rest between beats.
When an individual is approaching death, the systolic blood pressure will typically drop below 95mm Hg. However, this number can vary greatly as some individuals will always run low. Low blood pressure alone does not mean that death is imminent. Therefore, it is difficult to give an exact low blood pressure death range. The patients hospice care team will be assessing all of the patients symptoms in their totality, including how the patient is breathing and whether they have become unresponsive.
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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.
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.
During pregnancy, blood pressure tends to decrease. Normal blood pressure during pregnancy may be lower than 100/60. Your OB/GYN or Midwife should monitor your bood pressure if you are pregnant.
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What Is Considered A Low Blood Pressure Reading
What Is Considered A Low Blood Pressure Reading. Healthy and unhealthy blood pressure ranges. Within certain limits, the lower your blood pressure reading is, the better. Use our blood pressure chart to learn what your blood pressure levels and numbers mean, including normal blood pressure and the difference between understanding your results is key to controlling high blood pressure. Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types, namely: How low is too low for blood pressure?
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Treatment for hypertension depends on how high your blood pressure is, as well as your lifestyle and risk factors.
For elevated blood pressure, the goal is to keep your blood pressure from developing into clinical hypertension. No medications are necessary at this stage. Your doctor may recommend:
- losing weight if you have overweight or obesity
For stage 1 hypertension, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes as mentioned above, as well as:
- reducing your sodium intake
- finding healthy ways to manage your stress
- medication, if your blood pressure doesnt improve after 1 month of lifestyle changes
For stage 2 hypertension, the typical treatment, in addition to a healthier lifestyle, is medication. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medications to help lower your blood pressure:
- ACE inhibitors to block substances that tighten blood vessels
- alpha blockers to help relax the arteries
- beta-blockers to decrease your heart rate and block substances that tighten blood vessels
- calcium channel blockers to relax blood vessels and decrease the work of your heart
- diuretics to decrease the amount of fluid in your body, including your blood vessels
A hypertensive crisis requires immediate treatment. Medications may be given orally or intravenously .
The most for a hypertensive crisis include:
- vasodilators, such as hydralazine, nitroglycerin, and nitroprusside
- beta-blockers, such as labetalol and esmolol
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Whats 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.
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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Normal Blood Pressure For Men And Women By Age
A normal blood pressure reading indicates that the heart and blood vessels are not working too hard pushing blood and that the blood is not exerting too much pressure on the walls of the vessels, says Aseem Desai, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Southern California. Recent data from the American Heart Association suggests the optimal normal reading for adults over 20 is lower than 120/80 mmHgVirani S, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics 2021 update . American Heart Association Journal. 2021 143:e254-e743. .
Dr. Desai notes blood pressure can vary depending on a persons age, gender, race and ethnicity, but it should still fall within the general normal range. While numbers lower than 120/80 are generally considered normal, Dr. Desai adds, The target blood pressure for treatment varies depending on age and associated co-morbidities .
Previously, guidance for normal blood pressure for adults varied by gender and specific age, but new data states normal blood pressure for adults as a collective is less than 120/80 mmHgHigh Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 7/16/2021. .
When it comes to race and ethnicity, Dr. Desai says certain groups have a higher rate of hypertension. Non-Hispanic Black people have a significantly higher rate of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic white people, and Hispanics and non-Hispanic Asians have lower rates than the first two, he says.
Low Vitamin B12 Levels Can Cause Dizziness
Deficiencies in this essential vitamin may lead to a number of neurological problems, including feeling off-balance, and having low blood pressure and decreased blood flow to your brain, says Whitman. Vitamin B12 deficiency is easy to detect and treat, but is an often overlooked cause of dizziness, he notes.
Ask your doctor about having a simple blood test to check your B12 levels if youre having dizzy spells. Good sources of vitamin B12 include meat, dairy products, and fortified breakfast cereals.
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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
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 about 3.5 grams. Read food labels to avoid added salt in your diet.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. This diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For protein, stick to lean meats and fish. Avoid fatty foods.
- Drink enough fluids and avoid alcohol, which can increase your risk of dehydration.
- Stay physically active and start an exercise program. Ask your doctor what type and amount of exercise is safe for you.
- Maintain a moderate weight. If youre overweight, your doctor can help you create a safe weight loss plan.
- If you smoke, quit. Quitting can be difficult, so consider reaching out for support.
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Research For Your Health
The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including problems associated with low blood pressure. Learn about current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.
What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
Learn more about ways to manage and prevent high blood pressure.
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
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Salt Intake And High Blood Pressure
Reducing the amount of salt you eat can also help to manage or even avoid high blood pressure. To help reduce your salt intake:
- Ensure your diet consists of wholefoods including vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, lean meat and poultry, fish and seafood, legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods that are high in salt. You cant see the salt in these foods, so you dont know how much salt you are having. Get into the habit of checking food labels.
- Choose low-salt food where possible. If you cant find low-salt products, those with moderate amounts of salt are ok too. Another simple alternative is to look for labels with low salt, salt reduced or no added salt.
- Avoid adding salt to cooking or at the table flavour meals with herbs and spices instead.