Monitoring And Controlling Blood Pressure
Baroreceptors are specialized cells located within arteries that act as blood pressure sensors. Those in the large arteries of the neck and chest are particularly important. When baroreceptors detect a change in blood pressure, they trigger the body to react to maintain a steady blood pressure. Nerves carry signals from these sensors and the brain to
The heart, which is signaled to change the rate and force of heartbeats . This change is one of the first, and it corrects low blood pressure quickly.
The arterioles, which are signaled to constrict or dilate .
The veins, which are signaled to constrict or dilate .
The kidneys, which are signaled to change the amount of fluid excreted and to change the amount of hormones that they produce . This change takes a long time to produce results and thus is the slowest mechanism for how the body controls blood pressure.
Nonetheless, the ways that the body can monitor and control blood pressure have limitations. For example, if a person loses a lot of blood quickly, the body cannot compensate quickly enough, blood pressure falls, and organs may begin to malfunction .
In addition, as people age, the body responds to changes in blood pressure more slowly.
Medications That Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
Some medications can cause low blood pressure, including:
- Water pills , such as furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide
- Alpha blockers, such as prazosin
- Beta blockers, such as atenolol and propranolol
- Drugs for Parkinson’s disease, such as pramipexole or those containing levodopa
- Certain types of antidepressants , including doxepin and imipramine
- Drugs for erectile dysfunction, including sildenafil or tadalafil , particularly when taken with the heart medication nitroglycerin
Low Blood Pressure When You Stand Up
Sometimes, changes in your posture can cause your blood pressure to drop, for example, going from sitting or lying down to standing up. You might feel the symptoms listed above when you stand up, such as feeling dizzy or faint. They will pass quickly as your body adjusts, but can put you at risk of falls.
This is called postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Its caused by changes to your arteries which happen as you get older and if youre taking medications to lower your blood pressure.;
The animation below provides;information on the causes, symptoms and potential interventions related to orthostatic hypotension.
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Tips For Clients With Low Blood Pressure
Drink more fluids – Fluids help keep blood volume at a normal level. Sports drinks, due to their higher levels of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, may be more beneficial than plain water in this case.Salt – Adding salt to her diet can help increase fluid retention in the blood vessels which can normalize her blood pressure.Smaller and more frequent meals – Large meals can shunt blood to the digestive system in may lower blood pressure in the short term.Coffee – Research shows that 200-250 mgs of caffeine can decrease postural hypotension.Support hose – Support hose help reduce pooling of blood in the lower legs, which means theres more blood left in the upper body to maintain blood pressure.
As I always recommend, your first choice for exercise advice should come from your clients physician. Not only does this cover you legally, but it also shows both the physician and your client that you are concerned about her well being. You’ll find that the client and the physician will then be great referral sources. It also enhances your credibility as a professional in the health care chain.
The physician will also be able to rule out conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, alcoholism, neuropathy, central nervous system disorders and pregnancy, which can lead to changes in blood pressure.
Hyperventilation And Low Blood Pressure
Hyperventilation occurs when a persons breathing pattern changes in a way that reduces his or her CO2 levels. The most common reason this occurs is when the rate of increases , which often happens during periods of intense anxiety. It may also occur when people recognize their breathing rate increases, and try to slow the breathing through taking in deeper breaths. The body has a way of regulating the levels of oxygen and CO2 that is needed, so when a person attempts to control their breathing rate, it not uncommon to take in too much air.
Without enough carbon dioxide, the body has to work harder to function properly. Blood needs to move more quickly, and blood vessels dilate as a result. This dilation causes a drop in blood pressure but still may show up in a blood pressure reading.
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Lifestyle And Home Remedies
Depending on the reason for your low blood pressure, you might be able to reduce or prevent symptoms.
- Drink more water, less alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating and can lower blood pressure, even if you drink in moderation. Water, on the other hand, fights dehydration and increases blood volume.
Pay attention to your body positions. Gently move from a prone or squatting to a standing position. Don’t sit with your legs crossed.
If you begin to get symptoms while standing, cross your thighs in a scissors fashion and squeeze, or put one foot on a ledge or chair and lean as far forward as possible. These moves encourage blood flow from your legs to your heart.
Eat small, low-carb meals. To help prevent blood pressure from dropping sharply after meals, eat small portions several times a day and limit high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.
Your doctor also might recommend drinking one or two strong cups of caffeinated coffee or tea with breakfast. Don’t drink caffeine throughout the day because you will become less sensitive to caffeine, and caffeine can cause dehydration.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise that raises your heart rate and resistance exercises two or three days a week. Avoid exercising in hot, humid conditions.
Who Is At Risk Of Having Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure typically isnt a problem for most adults. However, if your blood pressure drops suddenly or you experience symptoms, it may cause serious side effects. The U.S. National Library of Medicine indicates that a drop as little as 20 mmHg can cause problems.
So what causes your blood pressure to drop and when does it put you at risk? Minor and temporary things can affect blood pressure, like getting up too fast after sitting, standing for long periods of time, or dehydration. Similarly, certain health conditions are risk factors for hypotension, including:
- Heart conditions
- Serious trauma
- Shock caused by blood loss
If you experience low blood pressure, youre at a higher risk for fainting and shock, which can require medical treatment if vital organs. Keep track of your blood pressure regularly so you get to know whats normal for you and what may be too low. A single measurement lower than normal isnt cause for alarm but if you experience other symptoms, talk to your doctor.
For more information about low blood pressure or to find a doctor, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.
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How Is It Diagnosed
The doctor will begin the diagnosis by checking the teens medical and family health history. This is followed by a physical examination and a few tests, including cardiac examinations.
- Auscultation method: It is the preferred method for checking blood pressure, wherein the sound from the heart is heard using a stethoscope. It requires a cuff that fits the childs upper arm .
- Blood tests: If anemia is suspected to be the reason for low blood pressure in the child, then a blood test like hemoglobin is done. Low blood sugar could also cause hypotension, which can be evaluated through the blood test.
- Electrocardiography: It is a standard screening tool used for detecting cardiac abnormalities in children and adolescents. The heart rate and the rhythm are evaluated through this diagnostic approach, which is typically used in the diagnosis of syncope that benign NMH can cause .
- Tilt table test: If a child complains of dizziness for unknown reasons, then this test is done. During the test, the child has to lie on a table that tilts from a horizontal to a vertical or upright position. The doctor checks the childs reaction when the table is tilted, to diagnose orthostatic hypotension .
Based on the diagnosis, your doctor will suggest the appropriate treatment for hypotension.
How Anxiety Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
- Many people associate stress with high blood pressure, but it can also cause low blood pressure.
- The low blood pressure itself is typically not considered serious.
- Hyperventilation is one of several links between anxiety and low blood pressure.
- Its important to control anxiety over blood pressure some people find that their blood pressure changes give them anxiety, creating a cycle.
- It is healthy to get your blood pressure checked, but it is also important to decrease anxiety.
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Q What Can I Do To Prevent Low Blood Pressure
Changing The Diameter Of Arterioles And Veins
Muscle tissue within the walls of arterioles allow these blood vessels to widen or narrow . The more constricted arterioles are, the greater their resistance to blood flow and the higher the blood pressure. Constriction of arterioles increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through the narrower space. Conversely, dilation of arterioles reduces resistance to blood flow, thus reducing blood pressure. The degree to which arterioles are constricted or dilated is affected by
Nerves that contract smooth muscle in the arterioles, thus reducing their diameter
Hormones that are primarily made by the kidneys
Veins also play a role in the control of blood pressure, although their effect on blood pressure is much less than that of arterioles. Veins dilate and constrict to change how much blood they can hold . When veins constrict, their capacity to hold blood is reduced, allowing more blood to return to the heart from which it is pumped into the arteries. As a result, blood pressure increases. Conversely, when veins dilate, their capacity to hold blood is increased, allowing less blood to return to the heart. As a result, blood pressure decreases.
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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
Baroreceptor Signals Sent To The Arteries
Baroreceptors communicate directly with arteries when blood pressure is too high or too low to bring it into a more appropriate level. Baroreceptors tell arteries to constrict when blood pressure is too low to help raise blood pressure. Baroreceptors tell arteries to relax when blood pressure is too high to help lower blood pressure.
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Will Your Doctor Treat Low Blood Pressure
You will likely get treated for low blood pressure only if it is causing symptoms or if your blood pressure drops suddenly. Treatment depends on your symptoms, how severe they are, and the reasons for the low blood pressure.
Your doctor may have you:
- Add more salt to your diet.
- Get fluid through an intravenous line if you are very dehydrated.
- Change or stop medicines that lower your blood pressure.
- Take medicine to treat the problem that is causing low blood pressure. For example, you may need antibiotics to treat infection or medicines to stop vomiting or diarrhea.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before you add more salt to your diet or make any changes in your medicines.
Exercise For Low Blood Pressure
Everyday exercise such as a 30-minute walk or light running can serve to improve circulation and alleviate any existing symptoms of low blood pressure. It is best to go with a companion if already a patient of hypotension, in case episodes of blurry vision, giddiness, or fainting happen during these times.
It is necessary to avoid undue stress to the body and sudden, jerky movements through heavy lifting and other strenuous exercise so that the flow of movement is smooth. Discipline and consistency regarding exercise aids the underlying causes of low blood pressure, while alleviating its symptoms as well.
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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
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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Changing The Volume Of Blood
The higher the volume of blood in the arteries, the higher the blood pressureâas long as the width of the arteries remains constant. The volume of blood in the arteries is affected by
How much fluid is in the body
Whether very small arteries leak fluid
How much fluid the kidneys remove from the blood to excrete in the urine
Certain drugs, particularly diuretics
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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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.
How Is Blood Pressure Generated
The left lower chamber of the heart receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it throughout the body. The heart fills with blood between heartbeats. This phase in the heart cycle is called diastole. When the heart pumps to push blood throughout the arteries, this phase is called systole. You can place your fingers on your neck or the inside of your wrist to detect your heartbeat. The pulse you feel is the contraction of the heart’s left ventricle.
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Responding To Low Blood Pressure
Everyone’s blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. At any moment, it may be lower or higher than recommended based on what a person has eaten, how much water they have ingested, whether they are sitting or standing, or even how they cross their legs.;
That low or high blood pressure alone is usually not a concern unless a person has a heart problem, as the body is expected to go through these different fluctuations.;
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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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