Low Blood Pressure Symptoms and Treatment: Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension is a condition characterised by sudden depression in the pressure of the blood flowing through your arteries. This can prevent the blood from reaching the tissues effectively which can lead to their starvation.
Medically, a blood pressure reading of less than 90/60 mm of Hg is termed as Hypotension. The upper reading is known as Systolic Blood Pressure which is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart beats. The lower reading is Diastolic Blood Pressure which is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart rests between the beats.
The optimal blood pressure is 120/80 mm of Hg. Low Blood Pressure is not dangerous if there are no symptoms. But if there are symptoms then it can lead to dizziness and even loss of consciousness. There can be numerous causes of low blood pressure such as dehydration, certain medications and long term medications.
Low Blood Pressure
Low Blood Pressure is a condition in which the pressure of the blood in your arteries decreases than the optimal amount. In some cases, a pressure which is considered to be low for some people can be normal for other people. Hypotension can lead to the development of dizziness, lightheadedness and even fainting episodes.
However it does not require immediate treatment as it is not serious but chronic low blood pressure can occur as a symptom of some other underlying conditions. Sudden drops of blood pressure are common in people who are rising from a low position and they are completely normal.
However if there are sudden drops in the blood pressure without any explanation then there may be some underlying condition which requires immediate medical attention. In this article, you can find out all the information regarding low blood pressure, types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention methods of low blood pressure.
Types of Low Blood Pressure
Low Blood Pressure has been characterised in the following types.
- Orthostatic Hypotension- It is the most common type of Low blood pressure. It is seen when a person suddenly gets up from a low lying position. You may experience lightheadedness and even dizziness but this is not a dangerous situation.
- Neurally Mediated Hypotension- It occurs when the person has been standing for long periods of time. It is mostly seen in young children and teens. It can result from a miscommunication between your heart and your brain leading to decreased blood flow to your brain and other parts.
- Postprandial Hypotension- It is a decrease in Blood Pressure 1 to 2 hours after you have eaten. This usually occurs in elderly people and patients of Parkinson’s Disease. Eating small amounts of carbohydrates, drinking lots of water and avoiding alcohol can help to reduce its symptoms.
- Shock- Any type of physical or psychological shock can cause a sudden dip in the blood pressure leading to extremely low blood pressure. This can lead to loss of consciousness as the blood supply to the brain gets disrupted.
Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure
Low Blood Pressure presents many symptoms which may seem common and can be ignored easily. In some cases, Low Blood Pressure does not even produce symptoms and the patient can perform their normal functions without any problems. The patients may present the following symptoms-
- Blurred Vision and Dizziness
- Fainting episodes
- Shortness of Breath
- Difficulty in Concentration
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Feeling Weak
- Agitation and Irritation
- Extreme Sweating leading to cold and Clammy skin
- Depression caused by prolonged Low Blood Pressure
- Lethargy or Malaise, an overall feeling of unwellness
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure varies throughout the day depending on the following conditions-
- Position of the Body
- Respiration rate
- Food and drink
- Medication taken by the person
- Psychological Stress
- Time of the Day
- Age of the person
These factors can lead to a fluctuation in your blood pressure but these fluctuations do not hamper the normal functioning of the body.
However, the factors given below can cause low blood pressure which can affect the normal functioning of the person.
- Pregnancy- It is the most common cause of low blood pressure. As the growing foetus demands more blood, it can lead to a decrease in the blood pressure in the arteries of the mother. Low Blood Pressure in this condition usually returns to normal after the delivery of the baby.
- Endocrine Disorders- Disorders which alter the levels of hormones in the body such as Addison’s disease may also lead to low blood pressure. Other conditions such as Diabetes are also associated with a decrease in the blood pressure of the patient.
- Dehydration- It is one of the most common causes of Low Blood Pressure. Long term dehydration can lead to a disruption in the normal bodily functions thus can lead to a decrease in the blood pressure in the arteries.
- Heart or Valve disorders- Disorders affecting the rhythm of the heart or one or more of its valves can lead to Low Blood Pressure. The heart will not be able to pump blood effectively into the arteries of the person thus not fulfilling the needs of the body.
- Blood Loss- Excessive blood loss due to a traumatic injury can lead to Low Blood Pressure as there will not be enough blood in the body to fulfil its nutritional requirements.
- Severe Infection- Severe and chronic infection, also known as Septicemia, can enter the bloodstream and lower the blood pressure to alaming numbers. This condition can be fatal to the patient.
- Anaphylaxis- Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction of the body to a foreign substance. This can lead to such low levels of blood pressure which can deprive the brain of its nutrients and be deadly to the person.
Diagnosis of Low Blood Pressure
Hypotension can be diagnosed easily in a patient. Your doctor just needs to measure your blood pressure at any random moment of the day and hypotension will be diagnosed by those readings. However, finding the cause of Hypotension can be difficult and requires multiple tests. Some of the important diagnostic tests are given below.
- Blood tests- Blood Tests can help your doctor to determine whether there is any infection or any hormonal cause for your Low Blood Pressure. It can also help your doctor to find out whether you are suffering from diabetes, pregnancy or Anaemia.
- Imaging- If your doctor suspects that you have an underlying heart or lung condition then they may prescribe X-rays, CT Scans or MRI to get an idea about your condition.
- Other Specific Tests- Your Doctor may also do other diagnostic tests to determine the exact cause of your Low Blood Pressure. These can be the following-
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)- Your doctor may perform ECG to get a reading of your heartbeat. This will help to get an idea regarding the rhythm of your heart beat.
- Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT)- Your doctor may conduct Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT) to check whether your heart and lungs are working properly or not. It can also help to diagnose heart attacks.
- Tilt Table- The patient will be binded to a tilt table which will then be tilted slowly at different angles to test the body’s reaction to the change in positions.
Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Treatment of Low Blood Pressure includes more lifestyle changes and less medication. You can find out the treatment methods for Low Blood Pressure below.
- Wear Compression Stockings- You can wear elastic compression stockings which go up to your calf to maintain your blood pressure in your legs. This can improve blood flow from your legs to your heart and improve Low Blood Pressure.
- Take Medication for underlying conditions- If you are suffering from Diabetes or any hormonal disorder then you should take your medication regularly and on time to avoid developing low blood pressure.
- Medication to increase blood pressure- If your blood pressure does not improve then your doctor may recommend some medicines to raise your blood pressure. Be careful while taking these medications so that it does not raise your blood pressure to alarming levels.
Prevention of Low Blood Pressure
Low Blood Pressure can easily be prevented by some lifestyle modifications. These changes will depend on your condition and the duration of Low Blood Pressure in your body.
- Stay Hydrated- Drink plenty of water throughout the day in order to maintain the water electrolyte balance in your body. Fluids increase the blood volume thus raising the blood pressure to normal levels.
- Use more salt in food- Including more salt in your diet can help you to improve your blood pressure levels. However you take care while eating salt as too much sodium can lead to heart problems and even heart failure.
- Take High Blood Pressure medication carefully- Take care while taking the medication for raising your blood pressure as too much of the medication can lead to the onset of high blood pressure. High blood pressure for long durations can lead to haemorrhages, stroke and even heart attack in the patient.
- Get Up Slowly- Make sure that you do not get up from a lying position suddenly as it can lead to orthostatic hypotension. Sudden changes in position can lead to fluctuations in blood pressure and can lead to low blood pressure in people. This can also lead to dizziness and lightheadedness in the person and in extreme cases the patient can even faint.
- Avoid alcohol- Alcohol is a Central Nervous System depressant and works to depress the nerve cells. Too much alcohol can depress your nervous system to an extent that it can cause your heart’s rhythm to be disrupted. This can lead to the onset of low blood pressure.
- Avoid Prolonged hot showers- Prolonged hot showers can lead to dizziness and even fainting. You should keep a chair or stool in your bathroom to prevent injuries due to falling.
FAQs Related to Low Blood Pressure
Low Blood Pressure can occur due to a variety of reasons. It can occur in cases of dehydration, endocrine disorders and other conditions.
Low Blood Pressure can present as dizziness, blurred vision, fainting episodes, shortness of breath, and other symptoms mentioned above in the article.
You cannot completely prevent hypotension as it depends on a number of factors however you can try to reduce your risk of developing hypotension by making various lifestyle changes.