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.
What Causes Low Blood Pressure
The cause of low blood pressure isn’t always clear. It may be associated with the following:
- Some prescription medicines such as for high blood pressure, depression or Parkinsonâs disease
- Heart failure
- Heart arrhythmias
- Widening, or dilation, of the blood vessels
- Severe dehydration from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever
- A reaction to medication or alcohol
- A severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis that causes an irregular heartbeat
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.
Common causes of naturally occurring postural hypotension include:
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
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How To Manage Post
Low blood pressure after surgery usually requires careful monitoring and some treatments. These following tips are recommended to combat post-surgery low blood pressure.
- Stand up and move slowly. The blood needs time to get flowing through your body, and low blood pressure can easily lead to fainting spells.
- Never have caffeine and alcohol. They can dehydrate you, and lower your blood pressure even more.
- Eat small meals. Eating can sometimes lead to lower blood pressure, so eating smaller meals more often can help reduce the risk.
- Stay hydrated.Drink plenty of fluids and water is usually best.
- Add salt to your diet. Your doctor might even prescribe salt tablets. However, this is only done under careful supervision by a physician.
- Wear support stockings. They can put pressureon your tummy, legs and feet, which can boost blood circulation and then increase blood pressure.
- Take medications as prescribed to treat low blood pressure. Phenylephrine is often used to increase blood pressure.
When to See a Doctor
Low blood pressure after surgery is common and usually resolves on its own. However, if you are experiencing dizziness, dehydration, nausea, vision changes, lightheadedness, fainting spells or cold, clammy skin, it’s time to call the doctor.
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.
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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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Treatment For Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is associated with mild symptoms and rarely requires any treatment. If hypotension is due to the medication that your child has been taking for any other health problem, then the doctor may change the medication, lower its dosage, or advice to stop using it.
If your child is diagnosed with NMH, then the doctor suggests changes to their lifestyle and advises you to provide adequate fluids, salt, and nutritional foods. If that doesnt work, then medication is recommended. Pediatric patients with NMH rarely might be given drugs like beta-blockers and fludrocortisone. However, these both have shown mixed results in pediatric patients, hence caution is needed .
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.
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Q What Can I Do To Prevent Low Blood Pressure
Ask The Doctor: Should I Worry About Low Nighttime Blood Pressure
Q. My systolic blood pressure is high in the morning , but in the evening it drops to below 100. I am taking two blood pressure medications daily and still experiencing seriously low blood pressure at night. What would you suggest?
A. Everyone’s blood pressure changes throughout the day, and it’s often highest in the morning and lowest at night. You seem worried about the low pressure at night, but that would concern me only if it’s accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness or fainting. A systolic pressure below the normal of 120 is usually not worrisome. In fact, studies show that low blood pressure while you are sleeping predicts low cardiovascular risk.
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Treatment Of Sudden Severe Hypotension
Serious conditions that cause a sudden drop in blood pressure need urgent medical treatment in hospital. Treatment will depend on the cause, but will often include measures to raise blood pressure. Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, these may include:
- fluids given via a drip into a vein
- a blood transfusion or
- medicines to elevate blood pressure.
Whos At Risk For Labile Hypertension
Labile hypertension tends to be situational. This means the spikes occur in response to stressful events a fender bender, intensive physical exertion or thinking about financial woes, for example. This helps distinguish labile hypertension from true hypertension, in which blood pressure is high all the time.
Although hypertension can develop at any time, it raises a red flag when it occurs in young people or after age 60.
People who develop hypertension in their 40s particularly if they have a family history of hypertension are more likely to have essential hypertension than labile hypertension. They tend to be overweight or have underlying dietary issues, such as excessive sodium intake or heavy alcohol consumption.
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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.
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
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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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Diet For Low Blood Pressure In Teens
Sometimes, blood pressure drops due to the poor supply of essential nutrients in the body. A balanced diet can help replenish these nutrients and elevate the blood pressure level.
- Include vitamin B12-rich foods such as eggs and fortified cereals as they help prevent anemia. Eat egg in boiled or scrambled form.
- Foods such as asparagus and broccoli that are rich in folic acid also help in keeping anemia at bay .
- Teenage girls should take iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, beans, and lentils to compensate for the blood loss during menstruation.
The best way to deal with hypotension in teens is to follow a healthy lifestyle of a balanced diet and physical activity. Also, adequate rest and proper intake of fluids can keep low blood pressure at bay. If these changes do not help, you should consult your doctor for advice on how to manage the condition better.
Do you have any experiences to share about hypotension in teens? Share it with us in the comments section.
What Causes Low Blood Pressure After Surgery
Most patients who undergo surgery will face lowering of blood pressure. This is often caused by a loss of blood or the prolonged effects of anesthesia. It might also be caused by an allergic reaction, dehydration, heart problems, and even infection in the body. The four most common causes are shown below.
1. Hypovolemic Shock
This occurs when there isn’t enough blood volume in the body. One of the most common causes is a hemorrhage, where blood spills out of the veins. When there is a hypovolemic shock, the blood pressure drops, the pulse rate goes up and the urine output decreases.
2. Cardiogenic Shock
This happens when the heart can’t contract and pump blood effectively. Cardiogenic shock is usually caused by myocardial infarction or heart attack. Up to ten percent of patients who suffer a heart attack will also suffer this cardiogenic shock 40 to 70 percent of those will die.
3. Septic Shock
When the body is overwhelmed by an infection, the arteries dilate, and there isn’t enough blood to keep up the strong pressure. As a result, blood pressure drops, sometimes dramatically. The patient will also have fever and a fast heart rate.
The drugs that are required to put you to sleep for surgery can play havoc with low blood pressure. It happens during the surgery, as well as after. Doctors always monitor each patient very closely throughout the procedure and recovery to ensure that low blood pressure will be quickly detected and treated.
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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.