Causes Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
There are three known causes of isolated diastolic hypotension:
- Alpha-blocker medications. These blood pressure medications work by causing your blood vessels to open up . Because they lower diastolic pressure more than systolic pressure, they may cause isolated diastolic hypotension. Common brand names include Minipress and Cardura.
- The aging process. As we age, we lose the elasticity of our arteries. For some older adults, arteries may become too stiff to spring back between heartbeats, causing diastolic blood pressure to be low.
- Too much salt in your diet. Dietary salt can decrease elasticity of your blood vessels. If you take in too much salt, you may increase your risk for low diastolic blood pressure.
There are several common causes of overall hypotension, which would include a low diastolic number.
- Overtreatment of high blood pressure. For some people, especially people over age 60, lowering systolic blood pressure below 120 may cause diastolic pressure to fall below 60.
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. .
Drink Plenty Of Water
Dehydration can sometimes lead to low blood pressure. Some people may have hypotension even with mild dehydration.
You can also get dehydrated by losing water too quickly. This can happen through vomiting, severe diarrhea, fever, strenuous exercise, and excess sweating. Medications such as diuretics may also cause dehydration.
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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.
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
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Medication Used To Treat Low Blood Pressure
In cases of more severe or recurrent symptoms of low blood pressure, doctors may prescribe drugs to stabilize the system. These may include:
Fludrocortisone: It is a steroid that is prescribed when the body is unable to produce enough by itself, and is often prescribed in conjunction with other steroids such as hydrocortisone. It reduces inflammation in the body and causes the body to retain more sodium. It may cause some water retention, but this is not a cause for concern since it is necessary to build blood pressure. To maintain the sodium-potassium balance, a doctor might recommend consumption of potassium-rich foods such as apricot, bananas, spinach and broccoli while on this prescription. Once the effects of low blood pressure are no longer witnessed, you may be asked to discontinue the steroid, while maintaining lifestyle and diet changes.
Midodrine: A counter to blood vessel dilation, midodrine is a what is called a vasopressor and constricts small blood vessels to increase blood pressure. It is usually prescribed in cases of postural hypotension and the dosage is gradually increased over time to prevent side effects.
What Causes A Sudden Drop In Blood Pressure
Postural or orthostatic hypotension is triggered when you suddenly stand up from a sitting position or from lying down. It can make you feel lighthearted, faint or dizzy. It happens for a number of reasons including hunger, fatigue or dehydration. It can also occur as a result of your genetics, medication, age, diet and psychological factors. In some cases it is caused by allergy and infection.
The majority of people who suffer from postural hypotension are those taking medications for high blood pressure. This sudden drop in blood pressure is also associated with emotional turmoil, pregnancy, diabetes and the hardening of arteries. Seniors are particularly prone to this condition, especially if they have a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system or high blood pressure.
How to deal with it: This type of hypotension is usually mild and only lasts a few minutes at most. If it lasts longer than that, then it could be a pointer to an underlying problem. You might need to talk to your doctor about it if you often feel lightheaded when standing up. If at any time you lose consciousness due to orthostatic hypotension, see your doctor urgently. Mild cases of orthostatic hypotension do not need any medical attention and shouldnt be a cause for concern.
Other Possible Causes
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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.
Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it typically has no symptoms. In fact, most people dont even realize they have hypertension until their blood pressure is monitored.
Symptoms dont develop until the numbers get very high and organs get damaged, often irreversibly, says Dr. Desai.
If you have severe hypertension, you might notice the below symptoms, some of which were reported by patients in a study in the British Journal of General PracticeGoodhart A. Hypertension from the patients perspective. British Journal of General Practice. 2016 66:570. :
- Rapid heart rate
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Causes Of Sudden High Blood Pressure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of out every three American adults suffers from diagnosed high blood pressure with only one half keeping their pressure under control. Sudden high blood pressure usually occurs to a small percentage of people with high blood pressure. This can include young adults, including a high number of African-American men, and those experiencing:
- Collagen vascular disorders
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
Sudden high blood pressure can also be brought on by daily activities and practices.
- Medication use such as over-the-counter pain relievers, a combination of various medications, and abuse of cocaine and marijuana can spike blood pressure levels.
- Smoking can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure as the chemicals, including nicotine, damage the linings of our blood vessels.
- Diet habits are critical to maintaining normal blood pressure levels as the bad fat and sodium found in many foods increase the blood solute content. It also can build up and block the blood vessels, leading to major heart trouble such as a stroke.
- Stress is part of our everyday life and becoming anxious about your worries can increase risk for spikes in blood pressure twofold.
- Medical conditions like kidney disease, spinal injuries, adrenal gland tumors, thyroid issues, and scleroderma can raise blood pressure rapidly.
How Can You Manage Your High Blood Pressure
Treatment of high blood pressure often starts with lifestyle changes, including decreasing salt in your diet, losing weight if necessary, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol use, and regular exercise.
In addition to lifestyle changes, medications are often used to lower blood pressure. There are several types of medications that treat high blood pressure with each type of medication having benefits and risks that should be carefully weighed by you and your health care provider. Most people take more than one medication in order to bring their blood pressure down to their treatment goal.
Your blood pressure medication should begin to work within days. However, because high blood pressure is a long-lasting medical condition that often has little or no symptoms, remembering to take your medications can be a challenge. Combination medicines, long-acting or once-a-day medications, may be used to decrease the burden of taking numerous medications and help ensure medications regularly. Once started, the medication should be used until your doctor tells you to stop.
Controlling your blood pressure should be part of a healthy living plan and lifelong task. The damage that high blood pressure causes your internal organs does not cause any symptoms until serious damage has been done.
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How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure Effectively
When taking your own blood pressure, its important to take it the right way to get accurate results. When and how you take your own BP can affect your results. Blood-pressure monitoring tips include:
- Take it easy before taking your BP. Rest for at least five minutes before your first measurement. Dont smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise for 30 minutes before taking your BP. Dont talk while taking your BP.
- Take your BP with an empty bladder.
- Sit correctly. Sit with your back straight and well-supported make sure not to cross your legs and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Position your arm correctly. Keep your upper arm at heart level. The way to do this will be a little different depending on whether youre using a wrist or upper-arm monitor, so follow the instructions for your device. Dont place blood pressure cuffs over your sleeves
- Measure at the same time every day. Many doctors will recommend taking your BP in the morning and evening. Dont take your BP right after you wake up.
- Take more than one reading and track your results. Take two or three readings about one minute apart. Some OMRON devices do this automatically and then give you an average of your readings. Take your monitor with you to doctor appointments. Some monitors called, wireless or connected, will allow you to store, track and share your results with your doctor from your mobile device.
How Is Fluctuating Blood Pressure Treated
First, a doctor will determine the underlying cause. They will ask about a persons history and discuss their lifestyle and current medications. The doctor may also order or conduct tests.
Medications can lower blood pressure and prevent dangerous fluctuations. A person may also be able to achieve this goal by making changes to their lifestyle.
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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.
Home Remedies And Lifestyle Changes
The following can help normalize blood pressure:
- Stopping smoking: Smoking harms the arteries and can cause high blood pressure.
- Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein: Reduce or eliminate added sugars and processed foods.
- Getting regular exercise: The American Heart Association recommends moderate-intensity exertion, such as walking at a quick pace. A person should do this for 30 minutes per day, at least five days a week.
- Limiting alcohol consumption: Women should drink no more than one drink per day and men no more than two drinks per day. Drinking more than this can raise blood pressure.
- Finding healthy ways to lower stress: Meditation, deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, and other techniques to manage stress can help to avoid spikes in blood pressure.
- Consuming less sodium: Excessively salty foods can cause sharp increases in blood pressure.
- Reducing the intake of caffeine: Caffeinated drinks can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure, and may make anxiety worse.
Consult a doctor for personalized guidance.
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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:
How To Prevent Sudden High Blood Pressure Problem
In 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States had high blood pressure as primary or contributing cause. Each year, the government spends an estimated $46 billion for workers missed days, health care services, and high blood pressure medications. Talk to your doctor about treatment for high blood pressure medications. In the meantime, there are precautions you can take right now.
1. Avoid Stress
Become involved in hobbies such as painting, exercise, and other physical activities to have a stress outlet and keep fit.
2. Limit Caffeine Intake
Talk with your doctor about your caffeine habits and stick to a plan to limit your daily intake.
3. Quit Smoking
As one of the biggest health risks, smoking can lead to serious heart and lung conditions and death.
4. Eat Healthy Foods
Avoid saturated fats and junk food to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
5. Reduce Sodium in Diet
Added salt and salt found in food products can lead to high blood pressure as it increases the solute content in our blood.
6. Exercise Regularly
A healthy heart, and body, requires regular exercise daily for 20 to 30 minutes.
7. Monitor Vitals
It is important to keep an eye on your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels, especially if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
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How Can You Lower Your Blood Pressure In The Short Term
If your blood pressure is elevated and you want to see an immediate change, medicinenet.com recommends that you lie down and take deep breaths.
This should help lower your blood pressure within minutes as it will help to slow down your heart rate which should decrease your blood pressure.
Unfortunately, this will not help to lower your blood pressure in the long term, this method will only lower high blood levels temporarily.
But it can be a useful technique to help lower your blood pressure if stress has temporarily caused your blood pressure to become elevated.
Hormones are released when you are stressed that constrict your blood vessels, which can create a short term spike in your blood pressure according to medicinenet.com.
These hormone levels should decrease if you pause and take steps to calm your mind and body down.
This will help lower your blood pressure to normal levels.
Why You Should Take Your Own Blood Pressure At Home Or On The Go
Because of regular fluctuations in blood pressure, white-coat syndrome, and masked hypertension, doctors may recommend self-monitoring for people with HBP. There are many benefits to taking your own BP:
- Knowing your actual, average blood pressure outside of regular fluctuations
- Gaining more control over your blood pressure
- Tracking your progress
- Saving time and possibly money from frequent doctor visits and complications
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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
What Is Low Blood Pressure
Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure .
A blood pressure reading appears as two numbers. The first and higher of the two is a measure of systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood. The second number measures diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 . In healthy people, low blood pressure without any symptoms is not usually a concern and does not need to be treated. But low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying problem — especially in the elderly — where it may cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.
Chronic low blood pressure with no symptoms is almost never serious. But health problems can occur when blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain is deprived of an adequate blood supply. This can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. Sudden drops in blood pressure most commonly occur in someone who’s rising from a lying down or sitting position to standing. This kind of low blood pressure is known as postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Another type of low blood pressure can occur when someone stands for a long period of time. This is called neurally mediated hypotension.
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