Is My Blood Pressure Too Low
Most doctors agree that a healthy blood pressure is anything under 120/80 mmHg. But how low is too low for blood pressure? Hypotension can occur when blood pressure drops below 90/60 mmHg.
This isnt a hard and fast rule, though. Since factors, like age, weight, and level of physical activity contribute to blood pressure, your doctor may not diagnose you with hypotension even if your blood pressure is a little low.
Low blood pressure typically becomes an issue only if youre experiencing symptoms, such as:
- Over-the-counter cold medicines
More Serious Or Lasting Causes
Some potentially more severe health issues can also cause low blood pressure, including:
- Nutrient deficiencies: These might involve vitamin B12 or folic acid.
- Neurally mediated hypotension: This disorder causes a drop in blood pressure after the person has been standing up for a prolonged period.
- Endocrine problems: These affect the regulation of the bodys hormones. One example is hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid.
- Heart problems: These can limit how effectively the heart pushes blood around the body.
- : This is a potentially life threatening response to a severe bacterial infection.
- Anaphylactic shock: This is a potentially life threatening complication of anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction.
In addition, loss of blood due to an injury can lead to low blood pressure.
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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Low Blood Pressure: What To Eat And What To Avoid
Many people live normally with low blood pressure , but some suffer dizziness, fainting, and even life-threatening effects such as heart attack or stroke. The condition can be characterized by a sudden drop in pressuresometimes triggered by standing up or eating or defined as chronically low blood pressure . There are many causes, including dehydration, injury, pregnancy, medication and disease, among others, and dietary measures that can improve or worsen low blood pressure. Here are a few of the dos and donts.
Ayurvedic Remedies For Low Blood Pressure
According to Ayurveda, low blood pressure is caused by vitiation of vayu in the body. It considers a nutritious, balanced diet with proteins and carbohydrates to be helpful for people with this condition. Dry fruits, chicken, rabbit, mutton, soups of black gram and meat, legumes, and fruits like mangoes, apples, bananas, and grapes are especially recommended. People with low blood pressure are also advised to avoid strenuous exercise.17
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Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Most doctors will only consider chronically low blood pressure as dangerous if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms, such as:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dehydration and unusual thirst
- Dehydration can sometimes cause blood pressure to drop. However, dehydration does not always cause low blood pressure. Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious condition in which your body loses more water than you take in. Even mild dehydration can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
- Lack of concentration
What To Do If You Have High Blood Pressure
If you have heart disease, you may want to check that your diastolic blood pressure doesn’t fall too far below 70 mm Hg, which can happen when you try to reach a low systolic number. “For a systolic blood pressure goal, I tend to be comfortable with a value of around 130,” Dr. Conlin says. Going lower than that carries an increased risk of side effects and other adverse events.
Everyone is unique. Your medical history, current state of health, lifestyle, and willingness to take additional medication and accept certain risks all play a role in determining your blood pressure goal and how to achieve it. Talk to your doctor about the strategy that makes the most sense for you.
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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.
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.
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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:
Treatments For Low Blood Pressure
If you have low blood pressure that is not an emergency, there may not be any treatment. Your doctor may continue to monitor you and have you do the same at home. But if there are symptoms in addition to your low blood pressure, there will likely be some form of treatment depending on your underlying cause.
Depending on your symptoms, low blood pressure and age, the treatments will vary and can include the following :
Add more sodium to your diet: Typically, under average conditions doctors would like you to reduce sodium because it can raise blood pressure. But for people who have low blood pressure, this may be a good thing.
Unfortunately, this doesnt mean you binge on high salt food and eat anything in sight. Your doctor will have you raise your sodium intake in healthier ways.
Increase your amount of fluids with more water: Adding fluids will increase your blood volume, prevent dehydration and can raise your blood pressure.
Start to wear compression stockings: These stockings are normally worn on your legs below the knee. They are used to help relieve pain and pressure associated with varicose veins. For low blood pressure, they can help prevent pooling of blood in your lower legs and move the blood elsewhere.
Prescribed medications: Several medications can be used to raise blood pressure. The following are 2 of the most common low blood pressure medications:
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Cut Down On Rapidly Digested Carbs
Foods like white rice, white bread, sugary drinks, and potatoes are quickly digested and passed from your stomach to your small intestine. This leads to postprandial hypotension. So cutting back on foods like this and adding more foods that are slowly digested for instance, protein, beans, and whole grains can help prevent your blood pressure from dipping too low after a meal.11
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
Depending on the reason for your low blood pressure, you might be able to reduce or prevent symptoms.
- Drink more water, less alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating and can lower blood pressure, even if you drink in moderation. Water, on the other hand, fights dehydration and increases blood volume.
Pay attention to your body positions. Gently move from a prone or squatting to a standing position. Don’t sit with your legs crossed.
If you begin to get symptoms while standing, cross your thighs in a scissors fashion and squeeze, or put one foot on a ledge or chair and lean as far forward as possible. These moves encourage blood flow from your legs to your heart.
Eat small, low-carb meals. To help prevent blood pressure from dropping sharply after meals, eat small portions several times a day and limit high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.
Your doctor also might recommend drinking one or two strong cups of caffeinated coffee or tea with breakfast. Don’t drink caffeine throughout the day because you will become less sensitive to caffeine, and caffeine can cause dehydration.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise that raises your heart rate and resistance exercises two or three days a week. Avoid exercising in hot, humid conditions.
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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.
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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What Is Cardiac Syncope
Cardiac or cardiovascular syncope is caused by various heart conditions, such as bradycardia, tachycardia or certain types of hypotension. It can increase the risk of sudden cardiac death.
People suspected of having cardiac syncope but who don’t have serious medical conditions may be managed as outpatients. Further inpatient evaluation is needed if serious medical conditions are present. Conditions that may warrant hospital evaluation and treatment include various cardiac arrhythmic conditions, cardiac ischemia, severe aortic stenosis and pulmonary embolism. If evaluation suggests cardiac vascular abnormalities, an ambulatory external or implantable cardiac monitor may be required.
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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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure doesnt always cause problems. If your numbers are usually low but youre otherwise feeling well, your doctor will probably just keep an eye on things.
But sometimes low blood pressure causes alarming symptoms, including:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Confusion or inability to concentrate
Any of these signs warrants a call to your doctor, who will likely take a look at the medicines youre taking. Sometimes a simple adjustment to the dosing is enough to raise your numbers back to the healthy range. Be sure to let your doctor know about any over-the-counter drugs or supplements you take, since many can interfere with prescription meds.
Your doctor will also want to make sure youre eating right and getting enough B vitamins. Depending on your symptoms and personal health history, your doctor may also order blood tests and heart screenings to get to the root of the problem.
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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.
Recent Findings Raise Concerns About Lowering Diastolic Blood Pressure The Second Number In Your Blood Pressure Reading Too Far
More of us than ever before are taking medications to lower our blood pressure. Longstanding guidelines suggest that most people should aim for a systolic blood pressure no higher than 140 millimeters of mercury . But in 2015, the results of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial suggested that reaching a target of 120 mm Hg could further reduce the risks associated with high blood pressure, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and death.
Yet reaching that lower target often requires three blood pressure medications, which can increase the likelihood of side effects. Two observational studies and one clinical trial have raised concerns about lowering blood pressure particularly diastolic pressure too far. Diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes. “When your systolic blood pressure gets too low, it can manifest as lightheadedness, fainting, and weakness. But low diastolic pressure by itself doesn’t have any symptoms,” says Dr. Paul Conlin, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of medicine at the VA Boston Healthcare System.
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Symptoms Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
Symptoms of isolated diastolic hypotension include tiredness, dizziness, and falls.
Because low diastolic pressure decreases blood flow to your heart, you may also have chest pain or symptoms of heart failure. Heart failure symptoms may include shortness of breath, swelling of your feet or ankles, confusion, and heart palpitations.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have chest pain or difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of low diastolic blood pressure along with low systolic blood pressure include:
When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency: Call 911
The majority of talk involving blood pressure typically centers around the topic of high blood pressure. High blood pressure effects more people but low blood pressure can be just as important. Most of the time low blood pressure is not a problem, and its even desirable. But there are times when low blood pressure is an emergency.
When is low blood pressure an emergency? Low blood pressure is an emergency when the BP number is too low and there are the following symptoms:
- Pale skin
- Clammy skin
This blog post will cover in more detail what to do in an emergency and mistakes people make when their blood pressure falls suddenly. Ill also tell you how to avoid low pressure, the symptoms and treatments. Low blood pressure is an important topic and must be taken seriously because the consequences to your body can be severe.
Low BP Tip: Home monitoring is just as important with low blood pressure as high BP! If you dont have a home blood pressure monitor, check out the current price on Amazon for the monitor I recommend, Welch Allyn Home 1700 Series Blood Pressure.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.
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