Low Blood Pressure - Learning the Basics

Low Blood Pressure - Learning the Basics

Do you feel thirsty, overheated, nauseated and irritated often? Do you feel that you are about to faint? Do you have difficulty in walking or even getting out of the chair? These are some of the situations that point towards low blood pressure.

What is low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure or hypotension is opposite to what we know as ‘high blood pressure’. In human body, blood pushes against the arteries with each heartbeat. This pushing of the blood is known as blood pressure. Low blood pressure is defined by the reading of two numbers; 90/60. The high number is known as systolic pressure or systole while the lower number is diastolic pressure or diastole.

Systolic means the pressure in arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood, while diastolic means the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between the beats. The optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 (systolic/diastolic).

Is low blood pressure concerning?

In healthy individuals, low blood pressure is not a cause of concern and in most people, it seems to be acceptable as it causes no problem to them. However, abnormally low blood pressure could be problematic for some individuals as it can cause various problems. In some cases, it can become life-threatening.

What causes low blood pressure?

The causes are not always clear but below factors can increase the risk of low blood pressure.

  • Hormonal problems such as underactive thyroid or low blood sugar
  • Pregnancy in which demand for blood increases
  • Certain medications such as beta-blockers and anti-depressants
  • Irregular heart rhythms (Arrhythmias) which hinder the heart from generating appropriate contraction
  • Dehydration resulting from excessive sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Heart failure which renders the heart incapable of pumping blood effectively
  • Emotional stress
  • Liver disease
  • Blood infection (sepsis)
  • Large amount of blood loss through injury
  • Severe allergic reaction (Anaphylaxis)
  • Lack of essential nutrients in the diet

Symptoms of low blood pressure

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blurring of vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Pale skin
  • Feeling thirsty

Types of low blood pressure

Hypotension or low blood pressure can be classified into 4 categories:

Postural or orthostatic hypotension

This is a condition in which your blood pressure drops while changing position from sitting to standing or after lying down. This is common in older people but younger people are also affected.

Postprandial hypotension

Sudden drop in the blood pressure after eating is known as postprandial hypotension. This is common in older adults and most likely to affect people with high blood pressure or some nervous system disorder such as Parkinson’s disease.

Neurally mediated hypotension

In this condition, blood pressure drops after standing for a long time. It mostly affects children and young adults. It is still not known what causes this condition but it seems some miscommunication between heart & brain and emotional stress are the reasons behind it.

Severe hypotension

This condition is related to shock. Severe low blood pressure occurs when your body organs do not get adequate blood and oxygen supply. If left untreated, this could become life-threatening.

Diagnosis of Low Blood Pressure

The doctor will examine your medical history and will measure your blood pressure. You would be further ordered to go through additional tests such as:

  • Blood Tests
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test

Treatment of Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure that causes no signs and symptoms, rarely need treatment. However, people with chronic low blood pressure can be effectively treated with lifestyle changes. Treatment is usually targeted at the underlying cause.

Depending on your symptoms, you might be advised to follow these instructions:

  • Eat diet high in salt
  • Drink a lot of fluids (non-alcoholic)
  • Reduce dosage or change of medication
  • Drink more fluids during hot weather
  • Do regular exercising to promote adequate blood flow
  • Avoid heavy lifting
  • Avoid standing for longer times
  • Eat small frequent meals in case of dizziness
  • Eat diet full in vitamins and minerals for making up any nutritional deficiency
  • Take adequate sleep

Low blood pressure normally is not as problematic and treacherous as compared to high blood pressure. But if you are facing any of the conditions or risk factors mentioned above, you should consult your general physician as soon as possible and go for a check-up.

Sources

1. Low blood pressure(2017, January 26). read more