Normal Blood Pressure Range
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.
What Can You Do To Treat Low Blood Pressure
While there may be short-term solutions, how you treat low blood pressure ultimately depends on what is causing it, explains Eksteen. In the short-term, sitting or lying down, elevating the legs, drinking water and eating something salty can help to bring blood pressure back up. Long-term treatment will obviously depend on the reason for low blood pressure and will be need to be directed by a medical professional.
Changes to your diet may also help alleviate the symptoms of low blood pressure in certain instances. In some people, low blood pressure can be triggered after a meal when blood rushes to the gut, reducing the blood flow in the rest of the body’s circulation. Smaller, frequent meals can help here, says Eksteen.
Its important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, and should you have any concern regarding your blood pressure, give your doctor a call.
Heart Rate And Exercise
In discussions about high blood pressure, you will often see heart rate mentioned in relation to exercise. Your target heart rate is based on age and can help you monitor the intensity of your exercise.
- If you measure your heart rate before, during and after physical activity, youll notice it will increase over the course of the exercise.
- The greater the intensity of the exercise, the more your heart rate will increase.
- When you stop exercising, your heart rate does not immediately return to your normal heart rate.
- The more fit you are, the sooner your heart rate will return to normal.
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Why Diastolic Pressure Is Important Too
The findings about low diastolic blood pressure are intriguing, and they make sense intuitively, Dr. Conlin says. Diastolic pressure is measured during the point in the heart cycle when blood flows into the coronary arteries that feed the heart. When those arteries are clogged with fatty deposits, blood pressure beyond the narrowed areas will drop as blood works its way through the narrowed channels. As a result, part of the heart muscle may not get enough blood. Starved for oxygen and nutrients, the heart may become weak and prone to damage.
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.
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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.
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.
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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 Should You Worry About Low Blood Pressure
As long as youre not experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, there is no need for concern. Most doctors consider chronically low blood pressure dangerous only if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms, explains Eksteen.
These symptoms include:
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Things You Can Do To Manage Low Blood Pressure
If low blood pressure isnt causing any symptoms or interfering with your daily routineand depending on the underlying causeyour doctor may decide to just keep an eye on your readings and ask you to be on alert for any warning signs, Dr. Mehta says.
There are also a few things you can do on your own to prevent problems.
1. Switch to mocktailsor good old H20. Remember, alcohol is dehydrating and can lead to a drop in blood pressure. Water is the preferred thirst quencher, since it helps increase blood volume.
2. Order the spinach salad. Certain foods play a key role in keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range. Vitamins B12 and folate, for example, help your body produce enough red blood cells to prevent anemia.
Leafy greens, avocados, beans, and oranges can help you meet your folate quota, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Chicken, eggs, fish, milk, yogurt, and meat are good sources of vitamin B12.
3. Dont skip meals. In fact, consider divvying up your meals into four or five small ones spread throughout the day. This can help prevent your blood pressure from dropping sharply after you push away from the table.
4. Uncross your legs. This can be a tough habit to break, but sitting with your legs crossed can hamper your blood flow. Its also good to start taking your sweet time when changing positionssitting to standing, lying to sitting, and so on.
A Low Reading Could Simply Mean Your Heart Is Healthy Or It Could Mean That Youre At Risk Of Falling Heres How To Tell The Difference
A low blood pressure reading is good news, right? After all, the oppositehigh blood pressurecan lead to heart attack, stroke, vision loss, and other health problems.
Unfortunately, the answer isnt so straightforward.
Sure, you might want to post a reading thats below 120/80 mmHg on your fridge as a boast that your ticker is in good shape. But there is such a thing as a reading thats too low, says Laxmi Mehta, M.D., director of preventative cardiology and womens cardiovascular health at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Abnormally low blood pressure, or hypotension, can be troublesome for some peopleespecially if its causing outward symptoms. If youre feeling dizzy, fatigued, short of breath, or youre passing out, or you have chest pain, that would be concerning, she says.
Heres what you need to know about the possible downsides of low blood pressureand six things you can do if your latest readings have been low.
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Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Arteries
Baroreceptors communicate directly with arteries when blood pressure is too high or too low to bring it into a more appropriate level. Baroreceptors tell arteries to constrict when blood pressure is too low to help raise blood pressure. Baroreceptors tell arteries to relax when blood pressure is too high to help lower blood pressure.
Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure can vary depending on the time of day. It gradually increases throughout the day.
What you’re doing and how you’re feeling can also affect it.
There are many possible causes of low blood pressure. It may be low because you’re fit and healthy, or you may have inherited it from your parents.
Some people develop low blood pressure as they get older.
It can also be caused by:
- being pregnant
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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:
Dangers Of High Blood Pressure
Dangers of untreated high blood pressure include stroke, heart attack, heart failure, vision loss, kidney failure, vascular dementia and sexual dysfunction, says Dr. Desai. Its one of the top risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation, which is the most common heart rhythm disorder worldwide and can lead to stroke, heart failure and reduced quality of life.
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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:
Dangers Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure may not be discussed as often as high blood pressure, but it should be addressed, as prolonged low blood pressure can negatively affect your organs.
A certain amount of blood pressure is needed to maintain blood flow to the organs, says Dr. Wong. The blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to these organs. If the blood pressure is too low, an adequate blood supply cannot get to these organs.
If left untreated, low blood pressure can increase your risk of fainting, heart attack and organ damage, adds Dr. Desai.
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What To Do If You Experience A Sudden Drop In Blood Pressure
A single low blood pressure reading is no cause to be concerned unless you experience other symptoms.
A sudden drop in blood pressure as little as a drop from 120 to 100 in your systolic number can be dangerous if it triggers dizziness and fainting. Such symptoms can be a sign of an underlying problem that may need medical attention.
You should keep a record of your activities and when symptoms happen to discuss them with your doctor. If you experience any low blood pressure symptoms related to shock, you should seek immediate medical attention.
When Does Low Blood Pressure Become Dangerous
The big concern with being dizzy, feeling faint, or having blurred vision due to low blood pressure is that you could fall.
Fracture your hip or spine, and you wont be able to move around easily or enjoy your independenceand that can harm your quality of life. If you experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or any of the symptoms above, sit down right away. Then bring your feet above heart level.
Its all about gravity, Dr. Mehta explains. When youre standing, your head is on top, and the blood pools down to the legs. Elevating your legs brings the blood back to your core and brain.
While youre resting, ask someone to bring you a glass of water, in case dehydration was the reason your blood pressure dropped.
After you feel better, contact your physicians office, and let them know what happened, Dr. Mehta says.
Important: Sometimes very low blood pressure can lead to shock, which means your body isnt getting enough oxygen and nutrients to work properly. The symptoms of shock include:
If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. Shock can be life-threatening.
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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.
What Causes High Blood Pressure
The cause of high blood pressure, or hypertension, is often unknown. It develops over time and often happens as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Occasionally, some people have hypertension caused by an underlying condition, such as kidney disease, adrenal gland tumors or thyroid disorders, says Dr. Wong. Other conditions like pregnancy, diabetes and obesity can also increase your risk.
Some people are susceptible to high blood pressure from certain medications, such as birth control pills, some decongestants and even some over-the-counter pain relievers, says Wong. Illicit drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines may also raise blood pressure.
High blood pressure is extremely common. A 2017 to 2018 survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics found 45.5% of U.S. adults have hypertensionOstchega Y, et al. Hypertension prevalence among adults aged 18 and over: United States, 2017-2018. National Center for Health Statistics. Accessed 7/16/2021. .
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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.
What Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
Factors that can cause low blood pressure include:
- Medical conditions like heart problems, hormonal problems, septic shock, neurological disorders, anemia etc.
- Certain medications for instance, some antidepressants or beta blockers prescribed for heart conditions
- Blood pressure tends to drop during the first twenty-four weeks of pregnancy.34
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Tips For Avoiding Low Blood Pressure
Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian about healthy foods to include on your shopping list. There are ways you can modify daily behaviors that may help as well.
If you suspect you may have anemia, be sure to visit your healthcare provider for testing to pinpoint the type of anemia and the best treatment options.
Here are a few other changes you can make to your diet to help raise your blood pressure:
- Eat small meals more frequently. Large meals may cause more dramatic drops in blood pressure, as your body works harder to digest larger meals.
- Drink more water and limit alcohol. Dehydration lowers blood pressure.
In addition to altering your diet, you may also be able to raise your blood pressure by making these lifestyle changes:
- If you exercise outdoors in extreme heat, take frequent breaks and be sure to increase hydration efforts.
- Avoiding spending long amounts of time in saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms which can cause dehydration.
- Change body positions slowly.
- Avoid prolonged bed rest.
- Wear compression stockings, which help blood move back upward from your legs and feet. You can purchase them online.