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Hypotension: What You Need To Know About Low Blood Pressure

Hypotension: What You Need To Know About Low Blood Pressure

Hypotension or low blood pressure is a health condition wherein one’s blood pressure clocks below 90/60 mm Hg. An occasional rise or drop in our BPs is considered normal. However, blood pressure rate that is constantly higher or lower than the recommended measurement may signify a health problem.

A sudden drop in blood pressure, such as a sharp decrease of 20 mm Hg is also medically concerning. It can lead to minor symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting

Types of Hypotension

There are different types of low blood pressure. These types include:

Orthostatic or Postural Hypotension

Common among older people and pregnant women, this happens when we stand up from a lying or sitting position.

Postprandial Hypotension

After eating, blood is rerouted towards the digestive system. Sometimes, the heart and blood are not able to maintain blood pressure, causing dizziness and nausea after meals.

Neurally Mediated Hypotension

Caused by the heart and the brain not connecting properly, this is usually felt after a long period of standing.

Shock

This happens due to a steep drop in BP, resulting in the blood not being able to reach parts of the body, particularly the brain.

Multiple System Atrophy with Orthostatic Hypotension (Shy-Drager Syndrome)

This is a rare condition associated with symptoms that are also present in Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms may affect involuntary processes in the body, including heart rate and blood pressure.

11 Popular Myths about Hypertension Busted

Causes of Hypotension

Some factors that contribute to a significant decrease in one’s BP are related to various risk factors such as old age, medications, and underlying diseases and complications.

They include:

  • Dehydration. This is caused by not drinking enough water, or not hydrating after a period of strenuous activities.
  • Blood loss. Losing significant amounts of blood from severe injuries or internal bleeding may lead to a sudden drop in BP.
  • Heart complications. These include heart attack, heart failure, bradycardia or slower heart rate, or other known heart complications..
  • Endocrine disorders. Complications in the endocrine system such as hypoglycemia, adrenal insufficiency, and parathyroid disease may result in low BP.
  • Septicemia. Septicemia or ‘septic shock’ may happen when one experiences serious infection in the bloodstream or blood poisoning.
  • Anaphylaxis. Serious allergic reactions to certain food items, medications, and other substances may lead to an alarming decrease in one’s BP.
  • Nutrient deficiency. Low blood pressure may occur when the body experiences anemia or lack of red blood cells due to deficiencies in vitamin B-12, folate, and iron.
  • Medications. These include anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and painkillers. This also includes medications for heart complications, erectile dysfunction, and surgery.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnant women experience a rapid expansion of their blood circulation. However, it is considered normal and temporary and can return to normal levels after giving birth.

Symptoms of Hypotension

Symptoms of hypotension may not manifest at all, or may only show mild symptoms. However, cases may worsen if left unnoticed and not treated immediately.

Symptoms of low BP include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea and fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling weak or sick
  • Breathing problems (fast but shallow breaths)
  • Confusion and lack of concentration
  • Dehydration
  • Cold and pale skin

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment and prevention for hypotension consist of a mix of dietary and lifestyle changes and medications that aim to increase your blood pressure.

These include:

Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Wear compression stockings to apply pressure to one or both legs, thus maintaining blood circulation
  • Slowly move and get up from a sitting and lying down position. When feeling low BP symptoms, cross the thighs in a scissor-like position or insert your foot on a chair ledge and lean forward. These can help in ensuring normal blood flow from the lower part of the body up to the heart.
  • If possible, minimize prolonged periods of standing.
  • Don’t get up from bed immediately. Instead, get up to a sitting position and perform deep breaths for a couple of minutes.

Dietary Recommendations

  • Consume more salt, as sodium can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
  • Keep yourself replenished with water, especially after doing vigorous activities. Avoid consuming too much alcohol.
  • Consume healthy foods, and limit your consumption of high-carbohydrate food items.

Medications

These include:

  • Fludrocortisone. This can help in increasing blood volume.
  • Midodrine. This can be taken to increase blood pressure to normal levels.

Key Takeaway

Hypotension or low blood pressure may hinder the normal distribution of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to various parts of the body. This condition is considered normal on most occasions. However, prolonged and consistent low BP, as well as low BP after doing active tasks, may pose serious health risks. In conclusion, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of low blood pressure, while also practicing lifestyle and dietary recommendations to maintain healthy blood circulation.

Learn more about Hypertension here.

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Sources

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 April 17, 2021.

 

Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension), https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21156-low-blood-pressure-hypotension

Accessed April 17, 2021

 

Low Blood Pressure, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007278.htm

Accessed April 17, 2021

 

Low blood pressure (hypotension), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20355465

Accessed April 17, 2021

 

Anatomy of the Endocrine System, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/anatomy-of-the-endocrine-system

Accessed, April 17, 2021

 

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Written by Dan Navarro Updated May 19
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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