Low Blood Pressure Or Hypotension
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury , with values between 105 and 120 for systolic pressure and 60 to 80 for diastolic pressure being normal.
Blood pressure regulation depends on the cardiovascular regulation centers of the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. When the pressure is below 90/60 mmHg, were talking about arterial hypotension.
Hypotension, when chronic and sustained, can be life and health-altering if not controlled. It can cause dizziness and fainting. Whats more, it can lead to damage to the heart and brain due to a lack of blood supply and oxygen.
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Diagnosis For Low Blood Pressure
Your doctor will check your blood pressure and then ask you questions about any episodes youve experienced to find out if low blood pressure is the cause. Blood work or urinalysis can also provide results that indicate low blood pressure.
If your doctor suspects that another medical condition is lowering your blood pressure, youll need to complete more specific tests to learn more. If another condition is discovered, treating it can have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
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:
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Dr Rupali Datta Clinical Dietitian At Fortis
1. Eat small portions frequently: Sneak healthy snacking sessions in-between the major meals of the day to avoid long gaps. Eating small portions several times of the day helps in preventing the sudden drop in blood pressure that one may experience after meals. So, if you are eating three full meals a day, it would be better to rather have them distributed in to five small meals a day. This one’s a great home remedy for also people who have diabetes.
Home remedies for low blood pressure: eat small portions frequently
2. Have adequate salt: Excess salt is bad, but on the other hand it is required by your body in moderate quantities. According to the World Health Organisation, your daily diet must contain at one teaspoon of added salt besides what you derive from natural from fruits and vegetables. In summers or if you exercise daily, keep some lime water with a pinch of salt handy. Salt works like an instant pick-me-up. Make sure you do not have too much salt too that may lead to problems like water retention along with high blood pressure.
Home remedies for low blood pressure: Excess salt is bad, but it is required by your body in moderate quantitiesHome remedies for low blood pressure: Drink at least 2 to 3 litres of water every dayHome remedies for low blood pressure: Caffeinated beverages like tea or coffee may help boost your blood pressureHome remedies for low blood pressure: Chew five to six tulsi leaves every morning
Q What Should You Eat When Experiencing Low Blood Pressure
- Drinking plenty of fluids- hydration is key, and dehydration can severely affect blood volume.
- Drink plenty of water through the day, especially after a workout session.
- Vitamin B12- lack of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. So, you have to consume foods like eggs, cereals, and beef to avoid a dip in your blood pressure.
- Folate- folate helps keep blood pressure levels at a steady level, and foods like asparagus, liver, and garbanzo beans are rich in folate.
- Salt: Salty foods are known to increase blood pressure, and you can eat food like smoked fish, cottage cheese, canned soup, and olives.
- Caffeine: Caffeinated tea and coffee can spike your blood pressure by stimulating the cardiovascular system and giving your rate a boost.
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When To See The Doctor
If you have had episodes where you feel faint or have fainted, see your doctor. In many cases, an episode of low blood pressure is nothing to worry about, but some people may have an underlying problem that needs treatment.
Treating low blood pressure will help reduce symptoms and lower the chances of you fainting or falling and injuring yourself.
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.
Read more about how .
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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.
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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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.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure
If anything, this study reinforces the need for men to be more diligent about maintaining a healthy level, says Dr. Huang. He suggests older men follow these basic guidelines:
Check your pressure every month and alert your doctor to changes. “If the upper number is repeatedly higher than 140, or the lower number higher than 90, let your doctor know,” he says.
Continue to take your medications as prescribed. “If you suffer from any side effects, talk with your doctor about changing the dosage or drug.”
Reduce your salt intake. “You do not have to go sodium-free, but be more aware of how much sodium is in the foods you eat,” he says. In general, try to keep your sodium intake below 2,000 milligrams a day. Foods that include the words “smoked,” “processed,” “instant,” or “cured” in the name or on the label are often quite high in sodium.
Continue to exercise or adopt some kind of workout routine. “Activity and weight loss can help lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure,” says Dr. Huang.
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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 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.
Ups And Downs Of Lower Numbers
This study supports observational studies that have found that lower blood pressure reduces cardiovascular risk.
But what does it take to get to the lower numbers? “On average, the people in the intensive treatment group took three blood pressure medications, while those in the standard treatment group only took two,” says Dr. Huang.
Moreover, the study found that the benefits in reducing heart attacks, strokes, and death were found equally in those older or younger than age 75. “So we can no longer say that a higher blood pressure is okay just because someone’s older,” he says.
But should older men focus on going lower? Is lower than 140/90 good enough, or should you be more aggressive and get that number down as close as possible to 120/80?
“If you currently are on blood pressure medicine, and your pressure is lower than 140/90, you should discuss with your doctor whether you should aim to go even lower,” says Dr. Huang. “There may be additional benefits to further reducing your stroke and heart attack risk.”
Still, there may be some downsides to going lower. For instance, many people may not want to take any additional medication. They may be concerned about battling common side effects, such as extra urination, erection problems, weakness, dizziness, insomnia, constipation, and fatigue. They also may have enough trouble monitoring their current medication without adding more to the mix.
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Why You Might Have Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure has many possible causes, from lifestyle choices, to medication or an underlying health condition.
In some cases, it may just be the result of being healthy and active or a tendency you’ve inherited from your parents.
Throughout the day, it’s normal for your blood pressure to vary depending on what you’re doing. Stress at work, the temperature outside and your diet could all affect your blood pressure reading.
This is why it’s important your blood pressure is checked under similar conditions each time to make sure results are consistent.
How To Treat Hypotension
If you have low blood pressure that doesnt cause symptoms or only occasionally causes mild lightheadedness, you may not need to treat your condition.
If you have more significant symptoms, your doctor might suggest several lifestyle and medication changes for you to use to regulate your blood pressure better and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
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Who Gets Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure can affect anyone, but the elderly are the most affected population. In fact, many older adults take medication to treat high blood pressure and experience the side effect of their blood pressure dropping too low.
Healthy, active adults and high-level athletes often have lower blood pressure.
Women are also likely to experience low blood pressure in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Warnings For People With Certain Health Conditions
For people with infections: Taking fludrocortisone can make an infection worse. Before you begin taking and while you take this medication, tell your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, or body aches.
For people with tuberculosis: Taking fludrocortisone may make an active tuberculosis infection worse. It can also cause tuberculosis to come back if youve had it before. Let your doctor know if you currently have or have ever had tuberculosis.
For people with glaucoma: Taking fludrocortisone for a long time may increase the pressure in your eyes, causing damage to your eyes and vision. Your risk for other eye infections will also increase while youre taking this medication. Let your doctor know if you have glaucoma or any other eye diseases.
For people with ocular herpes simplex: Taking fludrocortisone may cause perforation, or small holes, in the outer layer of your eye . Let your doctor know if you have ocular herpes simplex.
For people with heart disease: This includes high blood pressure and heart failure. Taking fludrocortisone might cause your blood pressure to increase or make heart failure worse because it makes you retain salt and water. Let your doctor know if you have any heart problems.
For people with diabetes: Taking fludrocortisone can increase your blood sugar levels. You should monitor your blood sugar level more closely. Your doctor may need to increase the doses of your diabetes medications.
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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.
Seeking Emergency Medical Attention
If a person experiences low blood pressure along with concerning symptoms such as a loss of consciousness, mental confusion, and a weak, rapid pulse and breathing pattern they should seek immediate medical attention.
In the emergency room, doctors may ask questions about a persons medical history, medications they may be taking, or any infections or accidents they may have had.
They may ask about or check for symptoms. They may also administer tests to check heart rate and blood pressure, and imaging tests to check the internal body and organs for other issues.
Even if a person is experiencing mild rather than severe symptoms along with low blood pressure, they should still seek guidance from a doctor.
Doctors may want to monitor the symptoms and test the blood pressure themselves to make any necessary diagnosis and administer treatment.
Aside from these events, a person may have low blood pressure and be in otherwise good health.
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How Do I Know If I Have Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is not always a sign of a problem. But if you have symptoms of low blood pressure, your doctor can diagnose the condition and uncover the cause. Symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness when you stand up from sitting or lying down — with a decrease in your blood pressure — may indicate a condition called postural hypotension. A wide range of underlying conditions may also cause your symptoms. It’s important to identify the cause of low blood pressure so appropriate treatment can be given.
The doctor will look at your medical history, age, specific symptoms, and the conditions under which the symptoms occurred. They will do a physical exam and may repeatedly check your blood pressure and pulse rate — after you’ve been lying down for a few minutes, right after you stand up, and within a few minutes after you stand quietly.
More sophisticated home ECG monitoring may be necessary to check for heart problems that come and go or an irregular heart beat that can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly.
An exercise stress test or, less commonly, an electrophysiology test may also be helpful.
What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure often has no symptoms, but can sometimes mean that not enough blood is flowing to your brain or organs. This can cause symptoms such as:
- feeling dizzy, faint or light-headed
- feeling unsteady
- suddenly noticing your heartbeat
If you have these symptoms, stop what youre doing and sit down or lie down in case you fall, and drink some water.
Speak to your doctor or nurse if you experience these symptoms. As well as being unpleasant, they could mean youre at risk of having a fall. They could also be a sign of another health problem.
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