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 probably about 3.5 grams. You can do this by reading food labels and avoiding added salt in your diet.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and include whole grains. For protein, stick to lean meats and fish. Avoid fatty foods.
- Drink enough fluids and avoid alcohol, which can increase your risk for dehydration.
- Stay physically active and start an exercise program. Ask your doctor what type and amount of exercise is safe for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If youre overweight, ask your doctor to help you with a safe weight loss plan.
- Dont smoke.
Serious Injuries And Shock
Low blood pressure can also be caused by serious injuries or burns, particularly if you have lost a lot of blood. This can mean that there is less blood being pumped around your body. Low blood pressure can also occur if you go into shock after having a serious injury.
Other kinds of shock are described below.
Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, is caused by an allergic reaction to something – for example, a wasp sting or a peanut. During an allergic reaction, your body produces a large amount of a chemical called histamine, which causes your blood vessels to widen and leads to a sudden, severe drop in blood pressure.
Cardiogenic shock occurs when your heart cannot supply enough blood to your body, so your blood pressure drops. This can happen during a heart attack.
What Is Systolic Blood Pressure
When you get a blood pressure reading, youll see two numbers one on the top and one on the bottom. The top number is your systolic blood pressure, and this is the amount of pressure your heart creates as it beats to pump blood through your arteries. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure, which is the amount of pressure in your arteries in between heartbeats.
Low systolic blood pressure is defined as being lower than 90, and low diastolic blood pressure is any number lower than 60.
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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. .
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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Treatment And Medication Options For High Blood Pressure
Most people who have high blood pressure will likely need lifelong treatment to help ward off or delay serious health problems brought on by the condition.
Options to treat high blood pressure may include eating a healthy diet with less salt, taking medication, and incorporating additional lifestyle changes. These include exercise, limiting alcohol intake, smoking cessation, and managing stress.
What Numbers Mean High Blood Pressure What Numbers Mean Normal Blood Pressure
Normal blood pressure is at or under 120 over 80.
In November 2017, blood pressure guidelines were modified. Any blood pressure measurement at or above 130 over 80 is now considered high. And thats what we in the medical community call hypertension. These numbers are down from the old recommendation of 140 over 90.
In the past, many people in the United States were considered prehypertension. The new recommendations get rid of that category, and now almost half of U.S. adults fall into the category of hypertension. That could seem shocking. But patients who are in this category should already be discussing their blood pressure numbers with their primary care doctor. If they arent, now is a good time to connect with their medical provider and come up with a plan for treatment.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
The first and most common symptom that your blood pressure is too low, Dr. Lajoie says, is lightheadedness and fainting. Some people also feel fatigue with low blood pressure.
The most common reason to become dizzy or faint is that the systolic blood pressure is temporarily too low to allow adequate blood flow to the brain. “This usually occurs when the systolic pressure is less than 80,” Dr. Lajoie explains.
According to the AHA, low blood pressure can also cause the following symptoms:
Role Of Lifestyle Change In Managing Blood Pressure
The new guidelines also highlight nonpharmacological approaches for lowering blood pressure, including:
- Weight loss for those who are overweight and obese
- A healthy diet
- Sodium reduction
- Increased physical activity
- Limited alcohol consumption. For example, its recommended that men have no more than two drinks daily, and that women have no more than one drink daily, since alcohol can raise your blood pressure.
Weight management in particular is very important, notes Frishman, but changes dont have to be extreme. For example, if a person is 30 or 40 pounds overweight, even losing 5 to 10 lbs can be enough to help bring their blood pressure down. Modest changes in weight can also reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
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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:
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How Can You Prevent Low Blood Pressure
You may be able to prevent hypotension by making changes to your lifestyle and diet, such as:
- Eating fewer carbohydrates and choosing small, healthy meals.
- Staying hydrated and avoiding alcoholic drinks.
- Rising slowly when youve been sitting or lying down.
- Taking a few deep breaths before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
Causes Of Secondary Hypertension
When high blood pressure arises suddenly due to an identifiable condition, its called secondary hypertension.
Some conditions and drugs can lead to secondary hypertension, including the following:
- Kidney problems
Hormone therapy used to relieve symptoms of menopause can also cause a small rise in systolic blood pressure.
If you know you have high blood pressure, but are considering hormone therapy, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of undergoing hormone therapy, as well as the best ways to control your blood pressure.
Additionally, some recreational and illegal drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy , and amphetamines, are also known to increase blood pressure.
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What The Studies Found And What They Mean
In one of the observational studies, published Oct. 16, 2016, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 11,000 adults collected over a period of three decades as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. They found that people who had low diastolic blood pressure were twice as likely to have subtle evidence of heart damage compared with people whose diastolic blood pressure was 80 to 89 mm Hg. Low diastolic values were also linked with a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause over 21 years.
For the second, published Oct. 29, 2016, in The Lancet, researchers analyzed data from CLARIFY, a registry of more than 22,600 people with heart disease from 45 countries. They determined that, compared with people who had systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 70 to 79, people with a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher were more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes, to be hospitalized with heart failure, or to die within a five-year period. But the same was true for heart attacks, heart failure, and death in people with low blood pressure .
When Is Low Blood Pressure An Emergency
In many cases, low blood pressure readings are not a cause for concern. A person with low blood pressure may not even be aware that their blood pressure is low, as it does not cause symptoms in many cases.
There is also no specific cutoff point at which blood pressure becomes too low or dangerously low, as it may vary from person to person.
Some people may have chronic low blood pressure and can be otherwise healthy. The American Heart Association note that most doctors will only consider chronic low blood pressure to be dangerous if it causes other symptoms.
Severe symptoms that come on suddenly may also be a cause for concern.
While symptoms may vary from person to person, they typically include:
If a person experiences any of these symptoms, they should contact a doctor.
When blood pressure is very low or drops rapidly, it can also be a medical emergency. The note that extremely low drops in blood pressure may put the bodys organs at risk of not getting enough blood, which may lead to shock.
Some concerning signs accompanying very low blood pressure to look out for include:
- rapid, shallow breathing
- very weak but rapid pulse
- cold, clammy skin
- blue hue to the skin
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.
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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.
Ptsd And High Blood Pressure
A growing body of research has linked post-traumatic stress disorder to high blood pressure.
Researchers arent sure about the mechanism underlying the relationship between PTSD and high blood pressure, but it may have something to do with higher levels of inflammation in patients with PTSD, which may increase blood pressure.
Since PTSD has a much higher incidence in veterans, experts say screening for high blood pressure should be routine not only in active soldiers who are at risk, but also for those who are no longer active and receive care from Veterans Affairs hospitals.
The AHA is the nations oldest and largest nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting heart disease, as well as its major risk factors, including high blood pressure. The AHA funds lifesaving research and advocates for people affected by all heart-related issues. You can also find diet and lifestyle tips for getting your blood pressure under control.
Million Hearts is a national initiative led by the CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Its goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes within five years. It focuses on small steps people can take to reduce risk factors for these heart events, including blood pressure control.
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Treatment For Low Blood Pressure
How low blood pressure is treated will depend on the cause of the low blood pressure, but some common treatments include:
1. Preventative Measures
In some situations, taking preventive measures can help correct your low blood pressure. For instance, if you have neurally mediated hypotension and a job that requires you to stand still for long periods of time, your blood pressure can drop.
Dr. Lajoie explains that taking preventive measures such as moving your legs around, walking at regular intervals, getting up slowly and performing leg exercises can help prevent dangerous drops in blood pressure that could cause fainting.
Adequate fluid intake is key to maintaining a healthy blood pressure, Dr. Lajoie says. Improving hydration can sometimes be sufficient to raise blood pressure levels.
3. Dietary Changes
In some situations, a doctor will prescribe increasing your salt intake to try to raise your blood pressure. However, Dr. Lajoie cautions that you should always talk to your doctor before making any significant changes to your salt intake because in certain situations such as heart failure it can make your blood pressure worse.
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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What Can I Do For Myself
There are other things you can do for yourself to help with your symptoms.
- Wear supportive elastic stockings . They put extra pressure on your legs which helps to improve circulation and raise your blood pressure. For some people this can be enough, but speak to your GP first because they arent suitable for everyone.
- Stand up slowly from sitting or lying down. You can try other simple movements to get the blood flowing before you stand up, such as straightening and bending your legs.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Drink enough water throughout the day, around 2 litres, so you dont get dehydrated.
- Eat little and often throughout the day. This avoids low blood pressure after eating.
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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.
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