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When Is Your Blood Pressure Too Low

Blood Pressure Monitor Vs Blood Pressure Cuff

TriHealth Doctor on Call: When is a Blood Pressure Reading Too Low?

Blood pressure monitor and blood pressure cuff are two phrases often used to describe the same blood pressure measurement tool. The blood pressure cuff is the element that wraps around either the upper arm, wrist or finger to measure blood pressure. The blood pressure monitor is the element in charge of inflating and deflating the cuff, as well as providing your blood pressure reading on an easy-to-read display.

Most experts recommend using a blood pressure monitor with an upper arm blood pressure cuff for at-home readings because they tend to be more accurate than wrist cuffs and finger cuffs.

Managing Low Blood Pressure

Having low blood pressure once in a while isnt likely a cause for concern.

Tell your doctor about any related symptoms. Keep a journal of your symptoms and what you were doing when they began.

This can help your doctor diagnose the cause of your low blood pressure, especially if youve tried making changes to your diet and lifestyle and still arent seeing your BP at a healthy level.

Are Certain People More Likely To Have Low Blood Pressure

Some people, especially if you have diabetes, are at a higher risk of your blood pressure temporarily dropping after eating or when getting up from a chair or from lying down in bed, for example. The former is whats called postprandial hypotension and the latter is orthostatic hypotension. Normally, when youre digesting food, or when you change your body position from sitting to standing, your cardiovascular system adapts by beating harder as well as more rapidly, and constricting the diameter of certain blood vessels, such as those far from your intestine where digestion occurs. These physiological changes all collaborate to maintain your blood pressure. But, if these changes do not occur fast or adequately enough, your blood pressure can drop, sometimes to dangerous levels.

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Causes Of Overall Low Blood Pressure

There are several common causes of overall hypotension, which would include a low diastolic number.

Medications

  • 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.
  • Other medications. Many medications besides those for blood pressure can cause hypotension. They include:
  • drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction

Medical conditions

  • Heart problems. Heart valve problems, heart failure, and a very slow heart rate can lead to hypotension.
  • Dehydration. If you dont take in enough fluids, your blood pressure can fall dangerously low. This may happen if youre taking a diuretic and lose more fluids than you take in.

Treatment for low diastolic blood pressure largely depends on the type of hypotension. Your doctor will assess this closely to determine the appropriate treatment plan.

How Can You Manage Your High Blood Pressure

Heart Health

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 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.

Changing The Bodys Position

Blood pressure can vary throughout the body due to the direct action of gravity. When a person is standing, blood pressure is higher in the legs than in the head, much in the way that the water pressure at the bottom of a swimming pool is higher than that at the top. When a person lies down, blood pressure tends to be more equal throughout the body.

When a person stands up, blood from the veins in the legs has a harder time getting back to the heart. As a result, the heart has less blood to pump out, and blood pressure may temporarily drop throughout the body. When a person sits down or lies down, blood can more easily return to the heart, and cardiac output and blood pressure may increase. Elevating the legs above the level of the heart can increase return of blood to the heart, which increases cardiac output and raises blood pressure.

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What Is Normal Blood Pressure

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 .

Low Blood Pressure Also Known As Hypotension Is When You Have A Blood Pressure Level That Is Below The Normal Range

What To Do If Blood Pressure Is Too Low

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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Causes Of Diastolic Hypotension By Itself

There are three known causes of isolated diastolic hypotension:

Medications

  • 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.

Lifestyle

  • Aging. 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 of low diastolic blood pressure.

Who Is Affected By High Blood Pressure

Approximately 1 in 3, more than 100 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only half of those people have their condition under control. Many people develop high blood pressure when they are in their late 30s or early 40s, and it occurs more frequently as people age. However, because of the obesity epidemic, more and more children are also developing high blood pressure.

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Feeling Dizzy May Be Related To Anxiety

Many people who experience dizziness, especially people in their twenties, may also have anxiety, says Whitman. They usually dont want to hear that dizziness can be linked to anxiety because it suggests that its all in their heads, he notes. But whats in your head is your brain. And anxiety can reflect a brain function disturbance that’s possibly genetic.

Compared with people who dont have anxiety, people with anxiety disorders appear to sway more when subjected to a moving visual environment, Whitman says. And they sway in a way that seems to be synchronized with the visual movement. These people may be abnormally sensitive to visual stimulation, because their dizziness can increase when theyre watching moving objects or walking through a large, bright store, says Whitman.

This is called visual dependence, and little is known about how common it is. We need to develop better tests of visual dependence, and we need laboratory tests for what we now call anxiety disorders,” ways Whitman. “Its likely that in the future, these disorders will be reclassified, in part, based on genetics.

How To Stop Blood Pressure Getting Too Low

How do you raise your blood pressure if its too low?

Low blood pressure itself is generally not a cause for concern until it gets too low and begins causing symptoms. Managing any issues that influence blood pressure may help prevent these numbers from dropping too low.

For example, people taking high blood pressure medications should monitor their dosage and blood pressure to be sure their numbers do not drop too low.

If their blood pressure starts dropping lower than usual, they should contact a doctor. The doctor may want to adjust the medication or check for interactions with anything else the person may be taking.

Managing other individual risk factors from underlying conditions may also help prevent blood pressure from getting too low.

Doctors may also recommend changes in some medication, such as adjusting medications for high blood pressure if they lead to dangerously low blood pressure.

Doctors will discuss any and all treatments with the patient in each case, and their exact recommendations may vary.

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Can We Control It

Low blood pressure is usually not too concerning unless it drops dangerously low and causes symptoms. Managing any diseases that affect blood pressure may aid in preventing it from falling too low.

People on blood pressure medications, for example, should monitor their dosage and blood pressure to ensure that their readings do not go too low.

They should visit a doctor if their blood pressure begins to fall lower than usual. The doctor may want to change the prescription or check for any interactions with other medications that the patient is taking.

Managing other individual risk factors associated with underlying disorders may also benefit in the prevention of low blood pressure.

What Causes Low Blood Pressure

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

  • Pregnancy

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.

Several drugs are commonly associated with postural hypotension. These medications can be divided into two major categories:

Common causes of naturally occurring postural hypotension include:

Certain diseases can also cause postural hypotension. These include:

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When To Go To The Er

Low blood pressure can be a serious, even life-threatening condition.

If you or someone you know is experiencing extreme symptoms, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room for treatment right away.

Emergency symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience symptoms after taking medication or have been diagnosed with low blood pressure and are experiencing an increased frequency in even mild symptoms, call your doctor to discuss your condition and next steps.

Dizziness May Be A Symptom Of Heart Disease

Is a Blood Pressure of 100/70 too low?

One simple cause of dizziness is sudden movement, like when you get up too suddenly from your seat or bed. But sometimes dizziness is a sign of a heart condition. Among the cardiovascular-related causes of dizziness are leaking or narrow heart valves, arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, and atherosclerosis, says Patricia Blau, PhD, associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. These can cause dizziness because they reduce blood flow to the brain, according to VEDA.

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What Are The Risk Factors

Syncope is common, but adults over age 80 are at greater risk of hospitalization and death.

Younger people without cardiac disease but who’ve experienced syncope while standing or have specific stress or situational triggers aren’t as likely to experience cardiac syncope.

Cardiac syncope is a higher risk in: people older than age 60 men presence of known heart disease brief palpitations or sudden loss of consciousness fainting during exertion fainting while supine an abnormal cardiac exam or family history of inheritable conditions. Other existing conditions and medications used are particularly important in older patients.

What To Do If Blood Pressure Is Too Low

Most cases of low blood pressure that dont cause symptomsor only cause mild symptomsdont require treatment. When treatment is necessary, it generally depends on the underlying condition causing your blood pressure to be too low. Hypotension caused by medications is usually treated by stopping use of the medication or changing the dosage. Low blood pressure due to dehydration can be treated by making sure to drink more fluids. Hypotension resulting from blood loss is treated by stopping the bleeding and administering intravenous fluids or a blood transfusion.

To help prevent orthostatic hypotension at home, be aware of how you stand up, get up in the morning, or change positions. Other home-care remedies that can help treat low blood pressure include:

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New Findings Focus On Diastolic Blood Pressurethe Second Number In Your Blood Pressure Reading

Image: mangostock/Thinkstock

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.

So What Can I Do About Low Blood Pressure

What is Low Blood Pressure Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and More?

Finding a solution often starts with pinpointing the culprit. Many people with hypotension can be treated by avoiding triggering medications or situations, says Dr. Wong.

In many cases, she says, medications may need to be adjusted or discontinued. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and whether your medications could be the cause. Maybe you need to switch your antidepressant. Or your beta blocker dose is too high.

Lifestyle changes can also be helpful, adds Dr. Wong. Most of the recommendations to raise blood pressure are the same ones experts suggest for lowering it.

Those include eating a wholesome diet and getting moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day to keep your blood pumping. Aim to fill your days with fruits, vegetables and whole foods low in added sugar. This will help ensure that your food is rich in heart-boosting minerals such as potassium and magnesium, says Dr. Bonney.

Reducing stress is another strategy that can help, Dr. Bonney adds. Elevation of cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone, can negatively affect blood pressure, she says. Mindfulness exercises and meditation can help regulate blood pressure levels for many people.

In general, low blood pressure isnt cause for alarm. But if you find yourself affected in ways that concern you such as feeling unsteady from head rushes whenever you stand speak with your doctor about how to reduce the impact of your symptoms.

Additional sources

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Risk Of Injury From Falls

If your blood pressure is low enough, the drop can cause symptoms such as fainting or dizziness.This causes a significant risk of falling since youre not conscious to stop the fall. Additionally, youre not aware of how badly youve injured yourself during a fainting spell. This can lead to serious injuries, such as head trauma from hitting your head.

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