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What Makes Blood Pressure Drop

Low Blood Pressure When You Stand Up

Drop that blood pressure… (High Blood Pressure/ Hypertension)

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.

This film was produced by Newcastle University for work completed by Dr James Frith, supported by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre.

Treatment Of Low Blood Pressure

Unless accompanied by other conditions, low blood pressure is usually easy to treat and does not require much medication. Often, a low blood pressure diet may be prescribed, or a change in lifestyle may become necessary. Common recommendations include:

Increased intake of water: Dehydration can cause an electrolyte imbalance resulting in signs of low blood pressure, and care towards adequate hydration would be important, especially in high temperature situations, during fevers or dysentery.

Increased sodium in diet: Salted nuts, cheeses and cured fish and meats are high in sodium content, and would help stabilize blood pressure in case it is very low. Care must be taken to not overdo it, however, and for a balance to be maintained.

Limiting alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption can cause fluctuation in heart rate and limiting its consumption for some time will help alleviate symptoms of low blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals.

Exercise: Light exercises not involving much strain to the body help improve circulation of blood throughout, and keep the heart healthy. In cases of low blood pressure, it is important to be aware of its symptoms such as palpitations and cold skin so that exercising does not aggravate the condition.

Ceasing any aggravating medication:If intake of certain medication is seen to cause dips in blood pressure, your doctor may recommend a substitute for the drug, or even stopping its consumption till pressure is stabilized.

Perk Up With Caffeine

One study found that when caffeine was administered after a meal, it prevented the postprandial fall in blood pressure in elderly, fit participants. So ending your meal with a cup of coffee might be useful in tackling low blood pressure.8

However, do keep in mind that coffee may have beneficial as well as adverse effects it could help lower your risk for diabetes and kidney stone but might increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. So if youre not a regular coffee drinker, do speak to your doctor before increasing your caffeine intake.9

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When Blood Pressure Drops Too Low

Sometimes your blood pressure can fall beyond what’s expected after exercise. This can happen for a variety of reasons.

The type and duration of the exercise, how much water you lose through sweat and whether you exercise in the heat are factors that can lead to a drop in blood pressure. Rehydrating, particularly when exercising in hot and humid conditions, can make you less vulnerable, according to the Hemodynamics of Hypertension report.

But if your blood pressure frequently drops when you go from lying down to sitting up or from sitting to standing, you may have what’s called orthostatic or postural hypotension.

Age may be a cause of postural hypotension. When you sit or stand, blood pools in the legs they act like reservoirs. “As we get older, the system that sends blood back up slows down it’s not as efficient as it used to be, so you might feel dizzy while it’s adjusting,” says John A. Osborne, MD, PhD, a cardiologist who specializes in hypertension and preventive cardiology and medical director of State of the Heart Cardiology in Southlake, Texas. Your cooldown should help your body adjust.

The effect can be even more pronounced if you’re on more than one medication, such as an ACE inhibitor and a diuretic. That combination plus the natural drop in blood pressure from exercise can leave you feeling dizzy and even faint. That 5-to-10-minute cooldown after each and every exercise session becomes even more essential, according to the American Council on Exercise.

What Causes Labile Hypertension

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When labile hypertension is suspected, a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Then the work of pinpointing the underlying cause begins. Serious detective work often is required. We look at the patients overall health, lifestyle and medications, says Dr. Lioudis.

When a medication or lifestyle choice is the precipitating factor, making appropriate changes can cause labile hypertension to disappear.

Underlying medical conditions are a bigger concern, since they may be harder to treat.

We look for sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or a problem with the adrenal glands, as any of these can cause blood pressure to fluctuate,says Dr. Lioudis.

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What Causes Blood Sugar To Drop Rapidly Apart From Too Much Insulin

Clearly, then, too much insulin is what causes blood sugar to drop rapidly. But theres more to it than simply taking too much insulin.

Skipping meals or eating less than what youre used to will also mean having too much insulin in the body.

In addition, the bodys sensitivity to insulin can change throughout the day. The greater the insulin sensitivity, the less insulin the body will need. If insulin sensitivity has increased, this will often be due to the combination of exercise and diabetes.

These are probably the most common reasons for low blood sugar, as the blog post What Happens when Blood Sugar is low? points out. NHS inform gives some other reasons, such as:

Fasting. Aside from not taking in any carbs for the insulin to displace, fasting can also lead to not having enough nutrients, which can hinder the bodys digestive abilities.

Similarly, illness can impact the bodys response to glucose. Illness will usually increase blood sugar but it depends on what kind of illness and how your body responds to it which can give low blood sugar. Read more on this topic with Diabetes and the Flu.

Meanwhile, sleep itself may not lower blood sugar, but you can still get low blood sugar in the night for the same reasons you would in in the day.

The only difference is that you cant treat it as effectively because youre well asleep. So, do have carbs ready by your bed, just in case. Read more on Diabetes and Sleep.

When The Problem Is Autonomic Dysfunction

In labile hypertension, blood pressure tends to spike upwards. Blood pressure that swings in both directions may be a sign of a different problem called autonomic dysfunction.

People with this problem have difficulty regulating involuntary functions such as heart rate, breathing and body temperature, in addition to blood pressure. We usually send these patients to cardiology for testing, says Dr. Lioudis.

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When To See A Doctor

Have your blood pressure checked as part of your regular doctors visits. The Mayo Clinic suggests that when youre 18, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every 2 years at a minimum.

If you have a high risk for high blood pressure or youre older than 40, ask for a reading every year.

  • have a high blood pressure reading and you havent received a diagnosis of hypertension
  • have well-managed blood pressure, but it measures above normal range more than once
  • are concerned that your blood pressure medication is causing side effects

A Reaction To Medication

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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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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 Causes Low Blood Pressure

The cause of low blood pressure isn’t always clear. It may be associated with the following:

  • Pregnancy
  • Some prescription medicines such as for high blood pressure, depression or Parkinsonâs disease
  • Heart failure
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Widening, or dilation, of the blood vessels

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. Itâs 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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Is Low Blood Pressure A Problem

For some people, low blood pressure is a sign of good health. These are generally people who are very fit and who have a slow pulse. For other people, low blood pressure is a problem.

Often, people with low blood pressure can be expected to lead longer lives.

However, people who experience continuing symptoms of low blood pressure should see a doctor. Sudden, severe low blood pressure can be associated with serious medical conditions.

What To Do When Your Blood Pressure Drops Too Low And How To Raise It

Easy Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Falling down of blood pressure below the normal range is referred to as low blood pressure or hypotension. The normal blood pressure reading is 120/80mm Hg, and a person with low blood pressure shows a reading of 90/60mm Hg or low. Having a low blood pressure without any symptoms might not be much of a problem, but if the symptoms start showing up it means that the blood supply to the body is being affected. If this happens the doctor might diagnose the condition to get the cause.

It is important to know what to do if your blood pressure drops too low and how to raise it. But before that let us understand the causes of low blood pressure and understand why your blood pressure drops too low. Some of the conditions causing low blood pressure involve

  • Chest pain or heart attack in a patient suffering from heart disease.
  • Sitting and standing may lead to vertigo or dizziness in the patient with postural hypotension.
  • Increase in urea and creatinine levels in the patient with kidney disease. This happens due to decreased blood supply to the kidney.
  • Kidney failure, heart failure, lung failure, and brain failure.

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Orthostatic Hypotension Blood Pressure When You Stand Up From Sitting Or Lying Down

If you stand up from a sitting or lying down position and experience orthostatic hypotension, it is likely that your systolic blood pressure has decreased at least 20 mm/HG or your diastolic blood pressure has decreased at least 10 mm/HG within three minutes of standing. It is not uncommon to feel a slight drop in blood pressure and, perhaps, experience a slight lightheaded feeling, but when the feeling lasts for a few minutes and when it happens on a regular basis, you should see a doctor. Orthostatic hypotension or postural hypotension can be a sign of a serious health problem.

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What Is Low Blood Pressure/hypotension

Low blood pressure or hypotension is a condition where the systolic and diastolic pressure falls below 90 and 60 respectively. Blood pressure is usually measured in millimetres of mercury, and normal blood pressure is usually slightly less than 120/80 mm Hg.

To have low blood pressure is not always a concern however, chronic hypotension can cause a lack of blood flow to the brain, causing dizziness, blackouts or loss of consciousness, and may even be life-threatening in severe cases.

More often, low blood pressure is a symptom of a different concern, such as plaque build-up, a heart disorder or aging related medical conditions, making it necessary to pay attention to signs of low blood pressure in its initial stages.

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Postural Or Orthostatic Hypotension

Postural or orthostatic hypotension occurs when your blood pressure falls after a sudden movement. For example, you may feel dizzy or faint after changing posture, such as sitting up from a lying position, or standing up from a sitting position. This may cause you to lose your balance and fall over. You may also feel light-headed, have blurred vision, or lose consciousness.

The symptoms of postural or orthostatic hypotension should only last a few minutes as your blood pressure adjusts to your new position. This type of low blood pressure tends to affect people more as they get older when it can lead to more frequent falls. Similar symptoms may also occur after exercise.

Condition Causes Significant Drop In Blood Pressure Upon Standing

Is Fluctuating Blood Pressure More Dangerous Than High Blood Pressure?

Dear Mayo Clinic:

My mother is 62 and has had very low blood pressure for two years. She was hospitalized with blood pressure that dropped from 200/78 in bed to 60/40 sitting up. What could be causing this and what can be done to treat her?

Answer:

Your mother has a condition called orthostatic hypotension. It happens when blood pressure falls significantly as a person stands up. Orthostatic hypotension can cause a variety of symptoms the most common are feelings of dizziness and faintness.

Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in a person’s arteries during the active and resting phases of each heartbeat. When you stand, gravity causes your blood pressure to fall slightly as blood pools in your legs, lowering the amount of blood circulating back to your heart to pump. Normally, the drop in blood pressure is limited, though, because when you stand your nervous system triggers your blood vessels to narrow and your heart to beat faster. Sometimes, however, those nervous system responses do not happen the way they should, resulting in large swings in blood pressure from lying down to standing.

Symptoms of orthostatic hypotension usually get worse in hot weather or when you are dehydrated. Some medications can also increase symptoms of orthostatic hypotension, including blood pressure medications, medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease, antidepressants and bronchodilators, as well as caffeine, alcohol and appetite suppressants.

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Severe Hypotension Related To Shock

While some of the causes of severe hypotension in shock may also cause orthostatic hypotension, the blood pressure drop is much more severe with the formerand it doesn’t return to normal.

The causes of hypotensive shock include:

  • Major blood loss
  • Severe fluid loss from diarrhea, burns, or overuse of diuretics
  • Cardiogenic shock due heart attack, arrhythmia, or pulmonary embolism
  • Vasodilatory shock seen in head injury, liver failure, poisoning, or anaphylaxis.

Shock is a medical emergency and you must call 9-1-1 to get medical help.

What A Sudden Drop In Blood Pressure Means

Sudden drops in blood pressure can occur for any number of reasons, some of which may be incidental and of no real concern, while others may the sign of a potentially life-threatening condition.

Sudden drops in blood pressure are often recognized by symptoms ranging from mild lightheadedness and fatigue to severe heart rhythm problems and respiratory distress.

Although low blood pressure is easily diagnosed with a blood pressure cuff , the underlying cause of sudden, severe drops may require extensive investigation, including a physical exam, lab tests, cardiac monitoring, and imaging studies.

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How Can I Deal With Low Blood Pressure

Immediate Steps

During an emergency, you should first take immediate steps such as lying with your feet raised above your heart, drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding triggers such as prolonged standing. Also, move your legs when standing. If you notice symptoms of orthostatic hypotension, cross your thighs and squeeze. You could also put one of your feet on a chair or ledge and lean forward. Put on abdominal binders or compression stockings might help reduce the effects of orthostatic hypotension.

Preventive Measures

Medications That Can Cause Low Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Measurement

Several medicines may cause low blood pressure, including some medications used to control high blood pressure.

Working with your doctor or other health care provider to change your medication or adjust your dosage can help control low blood pressure. You should never modify a dose or stop taking a medication without first consulting your health care provider.

Alpha and beta blockers, diuretics, erectile dysfunction drugs, Parkinsons disease drugs and some types of antidepressants can cause low blood pressure.

Medications that can cause low blood pressure include:

  • Benicar a prescription blood pressure medication
  • Cialis an erectile dysfunction drug risk is especially high when taken with nitroglycerin heart medication
  • Cymbalta a serotonin and norepinephrine inhibitor antidepressant
  • Hydrochlorothiazide a widely used generic diuretic
  • Inderal, Innopran XL and other versions of propranolol beta blockers
  • Lasix a diuretic
  • Confusion

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