How Does Your Body Regulate Blood Pressure
Your body has complex feedback mechanisms to regulate blood pressure, including dedicated nerves and hormones that are part of the sympathetic nervous system, which is involved in the fight-or-flight reflex. Special nerve receptors in major blood vessels signal a drop in blood pressure and alert your sympathetic nervous system to boost its activity, increasing heart rate and constricting blood vessels. If anything impairs these mechanisms, your blood pressure can drop.
Why Is It Important To Know If You Have High Blood Pressure
Early detection of high blood pressure is very important. Often referred to as the silent killer because it may show no symptoms, high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause.
When Is Low Blood Pressure Too Low Hypotension And More
Some people naturally have low blood pressure, known as hypotension. However, when high blood pressure suddenly becomes low blood pressure, it could be cause for concern.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, may be a sign of good health and of a decreased risk of heart disease. But not always. At times, continually low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure can lead to worrisome symptoms and even serious health problems.
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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
Who Is Affected By Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure can affect people of all ages, although it is more common in older people who are frail or bedridden. Pregnant women and older adults are more likely to have orthostatic hypotension. Children and young adults are most likely to experience neurally mediated hypotension, but they often outgrow it.
Hypotension commonly affects people who:
- Are taking certain medications that cause low blood pressure.
- Have hormonal imbalances or vitamin deficiencies.
- Also have heart problems or liver disease.
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Improving Health With Current Research
Learn about the following ways the NHLBI continues to translate current research into improved health for people with abnormally low blood pressure. Research on this topic is part of the NHLBIs broader commitment to advancing heart and vascular disease scientific discovery.
- Testing Treatments for Cardiac Arrest and Trauma. The Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium clinical trial network tested treatments to address high morbidity and mortality rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and severe traumatic injury. ROC investigators compared different strategies for supplemental fluids in trauma patients who have low blood pressure. Other ROC studies found a link between low blood pressure readings and the need for emergency procedures.
- Understanding How Low Blood Pressure Affects Diverse Populations. NHLBI-supported researchers are studying low blood pressure in different populations. Investigators in the NHLBIs Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study found that people who have low blood pressure when standing up, known as orthostatic hypotension, are at higher risk for stroke. In a follow-up study of NHLBIs Honolulu Heart Program, researchers found older Japanese men who had orthostatic hypotension were nearly twice as likely to die within the next four years as those who did not have orthostatic hypotension. NHLBIs Cardiovascular Health Study found that orthostatic hypotension was common in older adults, increases with age, and is linked to cardiovascular diseases.
Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
We always hear that low blood pressure is good for you. In most cases, this is true. You generally want to maintain a blood pressure equal to or lower than 120/80 mmHg, though this can vary slightly. If your blood pressure drops below 90/60, you may be at risk. There is a wide range of reasons why your blood pressure may have dropped. If you ever feel fatigued, dizzy, or other symptoms, one of these causes may be low blood pressure.
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What Can You Do To Help Relieve Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Depending on the type of low blood pressure you have, you may be able to relieve some of your symptoms by:
- Eating a healthy diet with fewer carbohydrates and smaller meals.
- Drinking more water and avoiding alcohol.
- Getting up slowly after youve been sitting or lying down.
- Focusing on breathing a few times before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
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.
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What Can One Do To Alleviate The Symptoms Of Hypotension
You may be able to alleviate some of your symptoms based on the type of hypotension you have by:
- Consuming a low-carbohydrate diet with many little meals.
- Consuming more water and abstaining from alcohol.
- Slowly rising from a seated or lying position.
- Before changing positions, focus on your breathing a few times.
- Compression stockings are worn.
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 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.
Low Blood Pressure Also Known As Hypotension Is When You Have A Blood Pressure Level That Is Below The Normal Range
If your blood pressure is naturally low, this probably wont cause you any problems and wont need treating. In fact, the lower your blood pressure, the lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Low blood pressure can sometimes be caused by medications or can be a sign of another health problem. This can sometimes cause problems such as falls, fainting and feeling dizzy, so it might need looking into and treating. Speak to your doctor or nurse if youre worried about low blood pressure.
Plus, take a look at the animation below on how to manage low blood pressure when you stand up.
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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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Does Your Blood Pressure Go Up And Down Throughout The Day
Blood pressure is normally lower at night while youre sleeping. Your blood pressure starts to rise a few hours before you wake up. Your blood pressure continues to rise during the day, usually peaking in the middle of the afternoon. Then in the late afternoon and evening, your blood pressure begins dropping again.
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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Why Diastolic Pressure Is Important Too
The findings about low diastolic blood pressure are intriguing, and they make sense intuitively, Dr. Conlin says. Diastolic pressure is measured during the point in the heart cycle when blood flows into the coronary arteries that feed the heart. When those arteries are clogged with fatty deposits, blood pressure beyond the narrowed areas will drop as blood works its way through the narrowed channels. As a result, part of the heart muscle may not get enough blood. Starved for oxygen and nutrients, the heart may become weak and prone to damage.
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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Fludrocortisone May Interact With Other Medications
Fludrocortisone oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.
To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs youre taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else youre taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with fludrocortisone are listed below.
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:
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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.
What To Do If You Experience A Sudden Drop In Blood Pressure
A single low blood pressure reading is no cause to be concerned unless you experience other symptoms.
A sudden drop in blood pressure as little as a drop from 120 to 100 in your systolic number can be dangerous if it triggers dizziness and fainting. Such symptoms can be a sign of an underlying problem that may need medical attention.
You should keep a record of your activities and when symptoms happen to discuss them with your doctor. If you experience any low blood pressure symptoms related to shock, you should seek immediate medical attention.
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Taking Your Pulse Versus Checking Your Blood Pressure
While both are indications of health, blood pressure and heart rate are two separate measurements. Learn more about the difference between blood pressure and heart rate.
Systolic is less than 120 and my diastolic is less than 80
Systolic is 120 129 and my diastolic is less than 80
The good news is that you dont have high blood pressure. However, your numbers fall within the Elevated category, making you more likely to develop high blood pressure unless you take action to control it. Ready to make some small changes that have big impacts? Healthy lifestyle choices are a great place to start.
Systolic is 130 139 or my diastolic is 80 89
You are in the first stage of hypertension, but there are actions you can take to get your blood pressure under control. Your doctor will speak to you about small changes that can make a big difference and other BP Raisers. In addition, monitoring blood pressure outside of the doctors office is important for BP control.
Systolic is 140 or higher or my diastolic is 90 or higher
Systolic is higher than 180 and/or my diastolic is higher than 120
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
What Causes Low Blood Pressure
There are several causes of low blood pressure. Some are temporary and can be easily fixed.
Low blood pressure may also be a sign of a health issue or emergency condition. Treatment may be necessary.
Several health conditions can cause low blood pressure. These include:
- trauma or head injury
Diagnosing and treating these conditions can help balance blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend simple tests such as:
- blood tests to check hormone levels, blood sugar levels, and for infections
- an electrocardiogram or Holter monitor to check heart rhythm and function
- an echocardiogram to check your heart health
- an exercise stress test to check your heart health
- a tilt table test to check low blood pressure due to changes in body position
- the Valsalva maneuver, a breathing test to check for nervous system causes of low blood pressure
New Findings Focus On Diastolic Blood Pressurethe Second Number In Your Blood Pressure Reading
Of the two numbers that make up your blood pressure reading, the first one typically gets more attention. That’s because as people age, their arteries lose their elasticity, and the inner walls are more likely to accumulate cholesterol-laden plaque. These factors tend to raise systolic blood pressure, a measure of the pressure inside the arteries when the heart contracts to pump blood throughout the body.
Current guidelines suggest that most people should aim for a systolic blood pressure reading of 140 millimeters of mercury or lower. But last year, a widely publicized clinical trial suggested that a target of 120 mm Hg could further reduce the dangers associated with high blood pressure .
Yet reaching that lower target required an average of three blood pressure medications, which resulted in more side effects. Now, two recent observational studies highlight some concerns about blood pressure that’s too low, particularly with regard to diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes.