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The Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure and Prevention Tips

The Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure and Prevention Tips

Given the option, many people would find it preferable to have low blood pressure than hypertension. And while it’s true that some hypotensive patients do not have a problem with their low BP, others experience concerning symptoms. In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms of low blood pressure, when it’s considered an emergency and its prevention.

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The Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

Before we enumerate the symptoms of low blood pressure (hypotension), let’s first clarify several things:

  • For most experts, a systolic reading of lower than 90 mmHg (number at the top) and a diastolic reading of lower than 60 mmHg (number at the bottom) is considered low blood pressure.
  • However, there’s no specific number for a day-to-day blood pressure that’s “too low” as long as you are not experiencing any symptoms.
  • Several people can have the same low blood pressure reading, but not all will exhibit symptoms.
  • Hence, what’s considered low blood pressure for you could be just a normal reading for some people.

Generally, hypotension becomes a problem when you notice the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Fainting
  • Blurred vision; others describe it as “fading vision”
  • Lack of focus
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness or sleepiness

When is Low Blood Pressure an Emergency?

A severe case of hypotension can be life-threatening as it could lead to shock.

If you or someone you love is experiencing low blood pressure, it’s important to be aware of the following symptoms of shock:

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Quick, shallow breathing
  • Confusion or decrease in sensorium (being very sleepy or being difficult to wake up)
  • Weak, rapid pulse

Seeking Medical Help

Since extreme low blood pressure could be an emergency, seek medical help immediately when you notice signs of shock.

If there are no signs of shock, but you are exhibiting noticeable symptoms of low blood pressure, consult your doctor at the soonest possible time.

In the doctor’s office, prepare to give the following information:

  • The symptoms you experienced.
  • When they happened.
  • What you were doing when you experienced the symptoms.

It would be helpful if someone in your family knows how to take a blood pressure reading. That way, you can provide your physician with the record.

After the physical assessment and health interview, the doctor may order some tests to determine what’s causing your hypotension.

From there, the two of you can work on a strategy to treat your condition.

But what if you’re not showing any symptoms of low blood pressure?

In that case, the doctor would most likely monitor your condition whenever you have a routine check-up.

symptoms of low blood pressure and prevention

How to Prevent Low Blood Pressure

After learning about the symptoms of low blood pressure, let’s discuss its prevention.

Generally, preventing hypotension depends on what causes it, but these measures could help:

Drink More Fluids

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of low blood pressure, one of the prevention methods is to drink more water. This is because dehydration sometimes causes hypotension.

Moreover, being dehydrated could also result in similar symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and weakness.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Did you know that nutrient deficiency could lead to low blood pressure?

When you significantly lack nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and folate, you wouldn’t be able to produce enough red blood cells, resulting in hypotension.

Maintaining a healthy diet helps ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need for blood production.

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Medication

In discussing the symptoms of low blood pressure and its prevention, it’s only natural to talk about medications.

Some types of drugs, like diuretics, anti-depressants, and of course, antihypertensives, could trigger hypotension.

If you feel that one of your medications is causing you to experience low BP, approach your doctor about it. Regularly monitor and record your BP so that your doctor can see the trends in your levels and adjust your medicine if necessary.

Avoid Abrupt Changes in Positions

One type of hypotension, called orthostatic or postural hypotension, happens because of sudden changes in position.

If you notice that you mostly feel dizzy or lightheaded within minutes of standing up from a seated or lying down position, you could be having orthostatic hypotension. It is best to avoid suddenly standing up from a bed or chair; instead, take time to gradually change your position by sitting up for 5 minutes (from lying down) before slowly standing up.

If you experience an abrupt change in blood pressure levels, consult your physician.

For prevention, you could:

  • Take a few deep breaths before you change positions.
  • Take time to adjust before switching positions. For instance, if you’re lying down, roll to your side first, and then rise slowly into a sitting position, before eventually standing up.

Avoid Standing for a Long Time

There’s also a type of hypotension that occurs after standing up for a long time. This is called neutrally mediated hypotension or NMH.

Basically, it happens because of “faulty brain signals” and is common among children and young adults.

If you have NMH, the prevention of the symptoms of low blood pressure is centered on taking a break when you remain in a standing position for a long period.

Choose to have Small, Frequent Meals

Have you been experiencing the symptoms of low blood pressure within an hour or two after a meal?

If so, you could be suffering from post-prandial hypotension.

After a meal, blood flow normally increases in the digestive tract.

So, to maintain normal BP, the heart beats faster and some of the blood vessels constrict. For some people, this mechanism fails, leading to hypotension.

Doctors indicate that for post-prandial hypotension, it would be helpful to have small, frequent meals and to cut back on carbs and alcohol consumption.

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Key Takeaways

Low blood pressure can cause symptoms like dizziness, blurred vision, and fainting. These can be prevented by properly monitoring your blood pressure levels, taking your medication, maintaining a balanced diet and good hydration levels, and going to the doctor for regular checkups. If you start experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, consult your doctor.

Learn more about Heart Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Low blood pressure (hypotension) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20355465 Accessed October 7, 2020 Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21156-low-blood-pressure-hypotension Accessed October 7, 2020 Low blood pressure https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007278.htm Accessed October 7, 2020 Low Blood Pressure - When Blood Pressure Is Too Low https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/low-blood-pressure-when-blood-pressure-is-too-low Accessed October 7, 2020 Low blood pressure (hypotension) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-blood-pressure-hypotension/ Accessed October 7, 2020 Low Blood Pressure https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/low-blood-pressure Accessed October 7, 2020
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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jan 25
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.