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.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured And What The Readings Mean
Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, with one “over” the other. The first, or top, number is the systolic blood pressure. This indicates the amount of pressure your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries when your heart contracts. The second, or bottom, number is the diastolic pressure, which refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart refills between beats.
Your healthcare provider typically measures your blood pressure using a stethoscope and an inflatable cuff that wraps around your upper arm. The cuff is inflated until it is tight enough to stop the blood from flowing, then it is slowly deflated. Through the stethoscope, your doctor or nurse will hear the whooshing sound of the blood returning this is the systolic pressure. The moment the whooshing sound disappears marks the diastolic pressure.
The commonly accepted ideal blood pressure for adults is 120/80 mm Hg or lower. But since blood pressure naturally rises with age, your BP might be higher than that without any cause for concern. For instance, according to a chart from Disabled World, a normal blood pressure reading for an 80-year-old woman could be 134/84 mm Hg.
So, what is considered low blood pressure in elderly people? Typically, the low blood pressure range is anything below 90/60 mm Hg. This is called hypotension. The Disabled World chart shows that a dangerous blood pressure level is 50/33 mm Hg.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
If low blood pressure causes a person to pass out , seek treatment right away. Or call 911 or the local emergency number. If the person is not breathing or has no pulse, begin CPR.
- Black or maroon stools
Hypotension Blood pressure – low Postprandial hypotension Orthostatic hypotension Neurally mediated hypotension NMH
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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.
Postprandial Hypotension And Blood Pressure
Some people are genetically predisposed to postprandial hypotension. In others, it comes on after a stroke, accident, or other trauma damages key nerves or blood pressure sensors. In most people, though, postprandial hypotension stems from aging-related changes that interfere with the body’s ability to respond quickly to sudden changes in blood pressure.
A major culprit is high blood pressure, which stiffens arteries, making it harder for them to narrow and relax as needed. Failure of blood pressure sensors in the arteries or stretch receptors in the stomach can lead to postprandial hypotension, as can diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and other nerve-damaging conditions.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
How To Prevent Feeling Dizzy After Eating
There is no surefire treatment for postprandial hypotension, but these four lifestyle changes can help you prevent low blood pressure:
Various medications and supplements have been tested against postprandial hypotension. These include caffeine, guar gum , acarbose , midodrine , and others. But none of them has performed well in clinical trials, and side effects of these therapies can sometimes be worse than postprandial hypotension.
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How Does Anaphylaxis Cause Hypotension
Anaphylaxis is the most severe type of allergic reaction. Allergic reactions occur when someones immune system overreacts to an allergen that is generally harmless to other people. This substance is called a trigger. When someone comes into contact with a trigger, their immune systems responds by creating an antibody to attack the allergen. This then sets off a series of immune system reactions. The immune system of people with anaphylaxis reacts to such an extent that it becomes dangerous to them and can result in death if it is not treated as a medical emergency.
In an anaphylactic reaction the body suddenly releases chemical substances, such as histamine, that are stored in the cells of blood and tissue. This sudden release is caused by the reaction between the antibody and the allergen. The chemicals released from the cells cause swelling by acting on blood vessels. These chemicals also cause other problems such as a fall in blood pressure, also known as hypotension. The histamine released by your body during an anaphylactic reaction causes blood vessels to widen which leads to a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure.
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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What Are The Side Effects Of The Treatment For Low Blood Pressure
There are no side effects for the lifestyle and dietary changes that can treat hypotension.
The medications used to treat hypotension have several side effects, some of which may be serious. Fludrocortisone can make certain infections worse, so its essential to discuss this medication with your doctor. The most common side effects from fludrocortisone are:
- Increased risk of infection.
The most common side effects from midodrine are:
- Numbness or tingling.
- Goosebumps and chills.
What Are The Signs Of Low Blood Pressure
We hear a lot about high blood pressure and what can happen if it isn’t controlled, but having abnormally low blood pressure can be just as harmful if it not properly treated.
Unlike high blood pressure symptoms, which are poorly defined and often totally absent, low blood pressure symptoms tend to be more upfront and easily recognizable. The development of symptoms is often a warning sign of a potentially serious underlying disorder. Generally speaking, your blood pressure would need to fall pretty dramatically before symptoms develop.
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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.
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.
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What Are The Treatments For Low Blood Pressure
The treatments for low blood pressure depend on what caused the condition. Your doctor will work with you to address the cause of the hypotension. In severe cases of hypotension, your doctor may give you IV fluids to raise your blood pressure.
Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age and the type of hypotension, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following: dietary changes, lifestyle changes and/or medications.
To make dietary changes, your doctor might tell you to:
- Stay hydrated by drinking more water throughout the day.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Increase your salt intake slightly because sodium raises blood pressure.
- Eat smaller, healthy meals and limit carbohydrates.
You can take several steps to avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend that you make the following lifestyle changes:
- Wear compression stockings.
- Get up slowly after youve been sitting or lying down.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Sit up and breathe deeply for a few minutes before getting out of bed.
Your doctor might prescribe medications like:
Different Blood Pressure In Right And Left Arms Could Signal Trouble
- By Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health
The next time you have your blood pressure checked, dont be surprised if your doctor, nurse, or other health-care provider measures it twiceonce in each arm. A significant difference in the pressure recorded in the right and left arms can signal circulatory problems that may lead to stroke, peripheral artery disease, or other cardiovascular problems.
British researchers looked at the results of 20 studies in which blood pressure was measured in both arms. People with an arm-to-arm difference of 15 points or more were twice as likely to have peripheral artery diseaseessentially cholesterol-clogged arteries in the arms, legs, or other non-heart parts of the body. The name may sound dismissive, but the disease isnt. Peripheral artery disease affects at least 12 million Americans, more than heart disease and stroke combined. It kills some, maims others, and makes life painful for countless more.
A blood pressure difference of 10 to 15 points or more between arms also boosted the chances of having a stroke or dying from cardiovascular disease.
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Getting Your Blood Pressure Checked And Under Control
There is no harm in a person monitoring his or her blood pressure. Some people have naturally low blood pressure, and some, naturally high blood pressure. A doctor can provide a person more information regarding his or her blood pressure and what is considered normal based on health history, diet, age, etc.
If a person is informed his or her blood pressure is nothing to worry about, then it is likely anxiety related. Trying to learn healthy ways to breath can be hugely helpful in these cases. Focusing on taking slow breaths, and not trying to over-compensate for poor breathing are good places to start. Going for a walk can help as well because it can take ones mind off of whatever difficult symptoms a person is experiencing, and get his or her blood flowing.
Anxiety can cause low blood pressure through hyperventilation. Some people also find themselves with anxiety after seeing otherwise normal low blood pressure during a random fluctuation. Learning to slow down and control breathing can help, although an anxiety treatment will be more important.
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What Are The Potential Complications Of Low Blood Pressure
Because low blood pressure can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Brain damage
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How High Is Too High For Blood Pressure
Although the term labile hypertension means blood pressure that fluctuates more than usual, the term actually has no official definition. Theres no line that must be crossed no minimum blood pressure reading or number of spikes necessary to make the diagnosis.
The term simply indicates a situation where blood pressure is rising beyond whats considered normal and acceptable for an individual.
Most times, these people have reasonable blood pressure control, says Dr. Lioudis. Yet they have periods when they may experience facial flushing, tension headaches, sweating or feelings of unease. When they check their blood pressure, its high.
Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Kidneys
Kidneys participate in blood pressure control by regulating urine production. When kidneys pull more water out of the blood, blood pressure decreases. When the kidneys decrease urine output, water remains in the blood and blood pressure increases. The action of the kidneys on blood pressure is slow — acting over hours to days — compared to baroreceptor control and other systems that influence blood pressure very quickly.
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Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Most doctors will only consider chronically low blood pressure as dangerous if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms, such as:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dehydration and unusual thirst
- Dehydration can sometimes cause blood pressure to drop. However, dehydration does not always cause low blood pressure. Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious condition in which your body loses more water than you take in. Even mild dehydration can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
- Lack of concentration
Neurological Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Proper functioning of the central nervous system is necessary to maintain adequate blood pressure. The vagus nerve and adrenaline system of the body work together to affect blood pressure. When the vagus nerve is overstimulated, veins expand, insufficient blood returns to the heart, and blood pressure may decrease. Vasovagal syncope is a term for a type of fainting that occurs when the vagus nerve is overstimulated. Vasovagal syncope may happen to those who are sensitive to pain or cannot stand the sight of blood. The vagus nerve is overstimulated in these cases and fainting occurs. This type of fainting may even occur when straining to urinate or while having a bowel movement.
In some kinds of spinal cord injury, adrenaline to the arteries is blocked. When this happens, the arteries remain wide open and adequate blood pressure is not maintained.
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