90 59 blood pressure

Low Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as the heart pumps blood. It is usually described as two numbers: systolic and diastolic. The numbers record blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), with systolic listed above diastolic. For most adults, a healthy blood pressure is usually less than 120/80 mm Hg. Low blood pressure is blood pressure that is lower than 90/60 mm Hg.

Some people have low blood pressure all the time, and it is normal for them. Other people experience a sudden drop in blood pressure or have low blood pressure that may be linked to a health problem. Many systems of the body, including organs, hormones, and nerves, regulate blood pressure. For example, the autonomic nervous system sends the “fight-or-flight” signal that, depending on the situation, tells the heart and other systems in the body to increase or decrease blood pressure. Problems with the autonomic nervous system, such as in Parkinson’s disease, can cause low blood pressure.

Other causes of low blood pressure include medicines, bleeding, aging, and conditions such as dehydration, pregnancy, diabetes, and heart problems. Older adults have a higher risk for symptoms of low blood pressure, such as falling, fainting, or dizziness upon standing up or after a meal. Older adults are also more likely to develop low blood pressure as a side effect of medicines taken to control high blood pressure.

For many people, low blood pressure goes unnoticed. Others feel light-headed, confused, tired, or weak. You may have blurry vision, a headache, neck or back pain, nausea, or heart palpitations. Sitting down may relieve these symptoms. If blood pressure drops too low, the body’s vital organs do not get enough oxygen and nutrients. When this happens, low blood pressure can lead to shock, which requires immediate medical attention. Signs of shock include cold and sweaty skin, rapid breathing, a blue skin tone, or a weak and rapid pulse. If you notice signs of shock in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1.

Your doctor will use a blood pressure test to diagnose low blood pressure. Other tests may include blood, urine, or imaging tests and a tilt table test if you faint often. You may not need treatment for low blood pressure. Depending on your signs and symptoms, treatment may include drinking more fluids, taking medicines to raise your blood pressure, or adjusting medicines that cause low blood pressure. Recommended lifestyle changes include changing what and how you eat and how you sit and stand up. Your doctor may also recommend compression stockings if you have to stand for long periods.

Visit Low Blood Pressure for more information about this topic.

When Is Low Blood Pressure Too Low?

Anyone can develop hypotension, but certain groups of people are more likely to experience it, and there are different types. For instance, orthostatic (positional) hypotension, which occurs when you stand up after sitting or lying down, is more common in older adults. Typically, “your body has certain compensatory mechanisms to prevent your blood pressure from falling when you stand up,” explains Willie Lawrence, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. But, he adds, “orthostatic hypotension is a problem for some people because these reflexes that should occur, don’t occur.”

Symptoms of Hypotension

Most doctors do not consider hypotension a problem unless it is associated with certain signs and symptoms, which may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Problems concentrating
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Clammy, pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

When Low Blood Pressure Can Strike

Some people have naturally low blood pressure, and they don’t experience any symptoms. But for those who are used to having high blood pressure, episodes of low blood pressure can signal a problem and can cause the symptoms listed above.

An onset of hypotension is more likely to occur when you:

  • Are on bed rest for a long period of time, and then resume an upright posture
  • Are in your first 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • Have lost a large amount of blood
  • Are dehyrdrated
  • Are taking certain medications, such as blood pressure lowering medications; certain heart medications; certain Parkinson’s disease medications; tricyclic antidepressants; or medications to treat erectile dysfunction
  • Have a heart problem, such as a very slow heart beat, heart valve problems, heart attack, or heart failure
  • Have an endocrine problem, such as hypothyroidism, parathyroid disease, Addison’s disease (an adrenal gland disorder), low blood sugar, or diabetes
  • Have a severe infection that enters your blood stream
  • Are experiencing anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction
  • Have a neural disorder that affects your blood pressure
  • Have a nutrient deficiency, such as low vitamin B12 and folic acid levels

When Do You Need Medical Care for Hypotension?

If your blood pressure is always on the low side and you do not have any of the above symptoms, there is usually no cause for concern. Similarly, if you have a single at-home blood pressure reading that is abnormally low without any symptoms, you probably do not need to see your doctor. It is normal for your blood pressure to rise and fall over time, and your body is usually able to get your blood pressure back to normal.

But, says Dr. Lawrence, “when you sense there’s a recurrent problem, or there’s no clear explanation for what’s happened, you need to seek medical advice.”

If your blood pressure drops suddenly and you are experiencing symptoms like dizziness, you should call your healthcare provider. They can assess your situation and rule out underlying problems, such as internal bleeding, serious infection, or allergic reaction.

Treatment for hypotension will depend on the cause of the low blood pressure. Immediate steps might include:

  • Lying with your feet above your heart
  • Drinking fluids
  • Avoiding hypotension triggers like prolonged standing

After evaluation by a doctor, recommendations may include:

  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Adjusting your diet
  • Adjusting your medications (possibly lowering dosages)
  • Taking blood pressure raising medications, such as fludrocortisone (Florinef) and midodrine (ProAmatine)
  • Wearing compression stockings

People who experience shock related to hypotension will need emergency treatment to restore blood flow to their organs and raise their blood pressure back to normal.

It’s important to determine whether your low blood pressure is “a primary problem or secondary problem,” notes Lawrence. A primary problem means that the body’s reflexes are not working as they should. Secondary causes mean that the low blood pressure is a result of things like dehydration or the effects of certain medications. “Some anti-hypertensive are more likely to cause hypotension than others, and a lot of it is dose-dependent,” says Lawrence. “In most people, there will be some easily identifiable secondary cause, or some easy solution to what may even be a chronic problem that has no secondary cause, and that’s why it’s important to see your doctor, so they can make an appropriate assessment.”

Keep track of your blood pressure readings, even if you don’t have any health issues, so that you know what your personal “normal” reading is. And if your blood pressure is being monitored, talk to your doctor about the blood pressure target range that’s best for you.

Living with low blood pressure

What is low blood pressure?

Blood pressure (BP) recordings consist of two numbers. The top one is the systolic blood pressure and relates to the contraction of the left side of the heart and the peak pressure achieved when it pumps blood round the body. The bottom number is the diastolic recording and is the lowest pressure achieved in the circulation; this relates to the relaxation of the heart. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), e.g. 120/70 mmHg.

Low blood pressure is also known as hypotension. This is usually defined in an adult as a systolic recording of less than 90 mmHg, although it has been suggested that for elderly people, below 110 mmHg is a more appropriate definition. Blood pressure and heart rate are controlled by the autonomic nervous system (the nervous system that controls bodily functions that we do not have to think about).

What are the symptoms of low blood pressure?

It is important to recognize that low blood pressure can cause no symptoms at all, and is a common normal finding in young people and athletes. However, in some people, low blood pressure causes symptoms which can significantly interfere with their quality of life. These can include syncope (fainting), pre-syncope (near fainting, usually associated with feeling light-headed), sweating, tiredness, slow thinking (brain fog), nausea, visual blurring, hearing disturbances, headache, palpitations, neck pain, breathlessness and chest pain.

A drop in systolic BP of 60 mmHg or more is usually associated with loss of consciousness.

What causes low blood pressure?

There are many factors which can contribute to low blood pressure. In some people, they only have one factor such as fear. In others, there is a combination which add together to cause problems, such as prolonged standing, heat, alcohol and hyperventilation (over-breathing) may also contribute.

It occurs more often in older people who are taking a lot of medication. However, it can cause symptoms in younger people. There may be underlying medical conditions such as joint hypermobility syndrome, diabetes, parkinson’s disease, addison’s disease or autonomic failure. Dehydration, hunger*, low body weight and deconditioning (being out of shape/unfit) can reduce blood pressure.

Your blood pressure is 110 over 64?

Blood pressure 110/64 – what does it mean?

Your blood pressure reading of 110/64 indicates an Ideal blood pressure. The requirements are met with a systolic (upper) value under 120 mmHg and a diastolic (lower) value of under 80 mmHg.

The ideal blood pressure is the best requirement to avoid damaging of vessels and organs. With an ideal blood pressure you can increase your life expectancy.

Blood Pressure 110/64 on the blood pressure chart

Check your blood pressure

Systole
(upper value): Diastole
(lower value): Check NOW

Blood Pressure 110/64 on the blood pressure scale

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 210 220

Systolic value
(upper) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150

Diastolic value
(lower)

What you should know about a blood pressure of 110/64

Your blood pressure of 110/64 is ideal. No immediate actions need to be taken to improve it.

To maintain your blood pressure on this excellent level, the following can help:

  • Regular sports and exercise
  • No smoking
  • Low salt intake
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol
  • Reduce stress

Blood Pressure 110/64 on the blood pressure monitor

More Information

  • Measuring blood pressure correctly
  • 5 quick and easy ways to immediately lower your blood pressure
  • Why does my chest hurt?
  • Understanding low blood pressure
  • Which tea lowers my blood pressure?

Systole
(upper value): Diastole
(lower value): Check NOW

Blood pressure goals: How low should you go?

Surprising new normal, healthy blood pressure for men by age

Updated: June 19, 2018Published: April, 2014

What’s good blood pressure for men by ages? As many as three-quarters of men over 65 have high blood pressure. Many end up taking medication to prevent heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and erectile dysfunction.

For most people with blood pressure clearly in the red zone, getting their numbers below 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is a reasonable goal. However, in December 2013, a panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a recommendation that people over age 60 with high blood pressure could settle for a goal of 150/90—not the more stringent standard of 140/90—and still get health benefits. The American Heart Association rejected the idea, and five of the 17 members on the NIH panel later publicly dissented with the majority opinion. The debate continues.

To bring blood pressure under adequate control, it may require taking one or more medications (in addition to exercising and eating a healthy diet). But taking multiple medications—besides being more expensive and inconvenient—multiplies the chance of side effects.

The risk of side effects depends only partly on your age. The older you are, the greater the chance that drug therapy could overshoot the mark and trigger blurry vision, confusion, dizziness, fainting, light-headedness, erectile dysfunction, and weakness. Given those risks, how low of a target pressure should you shoot for?

“It doesn’t depend on an arbitrary age,” says Dr. Lewis A. Lipsitz, chief of geriatrics at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “In the end, the goal of treatment—the target pressure you should shoot for—depends on your overall health.”
A healthy man with high blood pressure may be able to tolerate more medication and therefore benefit more from the treatment.

Chart: What is healthy blood pressure, by age?

The “sweet spot” for blood pressure control in older adults is a systolic blood pressure between 130 and 150 mm Hg. This lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart-related causes. But in men 70 and older, cardiovascular risk may begin to rise if medication reduces systolic blood pressure below 130 mm Hg.

Aiming for good blood pressure

Medication keeps both blood pressure measures in check. Systolic blood pressure—the upper number in a blood pressure reading—measures the force on the arteries when the heart contracts. Diastolic pressure (the lower number) measures the force between beats.

The ideal blood pressure is 120/80; as it rises above that threshold, the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems steadily rises. At 140/90, doctors generally recommend blood pressure medication. In an individual, the amount of disease-prevention bang you get for your medication buck depends on how high your pressure is to start. If your risk is high, you have more to gain from medication. If your risk is relatively low—well, not so much.

In older men, the main benefit of blood pressure control is preventing strokes. However, the older you are and the more health conditions you have, the greater the chance of medication side effects. “We do want to treat high blood pressure in people over 65—or in fact at any age,” Dr. Lipsitz says. “The question is how low do we want to reduce the blood pressure?”

The recent recommendations were based on evidence that if you take people with systolic blood pressures of 160 and higher and give them drugs to reduce it below 150, those people get more health benefits than the treatment “costs” them in side effects.

The evidence gets hazier for reducing blood pressure to 140 or below. Many doctors still believe that’s what the goal should be for those age 60 and older, but the quality of the evidence for it is not as strong as we would like it to be.

Treating high blood pressure by age

Dr. Lipsitz says age is indeed an important consideration in decisions about treating high blood pressure, but a more personalized approach is best. “I would treat otherwise healthy 60- or 70-year-olds like everybody else,” Dr. Lipsitz says. “I would aim for a pressure below 140. It’s proven to be effective.”

However, he adds, “I wouldn’t go too low.” Forcing a blood pressure between 160 and 180 down to anywhere near 120 could require excessive amounts of medication and could cause dangerous side effects. But it’s not necessary to push everyone’s systolic blood pressure down to 120. “We get good results in people as old as 84 years by bringing pressure just below 150,” Dr. Lipsitz says.

Side effects from blood pressure treatment

Problem

Solution

ACE inhibitors causes a cough in some people.

Take an ARB instead.

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) can cause swelling in the ankles.

Take an ACE inhibitor or an ARB

instead.

Diuretics or “water pills” can cause frequent urination if taken at night.

Take diuretics in the morning.

Beta blockers are associated with a small risk of fatigue or sexual dysfunction.

Ask your doctor if you can try different

kinds of blood pressure medication and see if your symptoms go away.

Alpha blockers, drugs used to treat urinary symptoms from an enlarged prostate, may lower blood pressure excessively, causing dizziness and fainting.

Don’t take alpha blockers with blood pressure medications or ask your doctor about alternative drugs for prostate problems.

ACE: angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor; ARB: angiotensin-receptor blocker;

CCB: calcium channel blocker

Who gets blood pressure treatment side effects?

Aggressive blood pressure lowering is not always best for men with other underlying health conditions, Dr. Lipsitz says. “It makes you more vulnerable to the side effects of blood pressure medication.” These higher-risk individuals would include:

  • men with impaired liver or kidney function

  • men with memory impairment

  • men already taking multiple other medications

  • older men with a slow walking speed, which indicates frailty

  • men with narrowed coronary arteries, which might not be able to channel sufficient blood to the heart if their diastolic blood pressure falls too low.

If you’ve been taking blood pressure drugs for a while without problems, it’s unlikely that you will start experiencing new ones out of the blue. Bad reactions tend to happen more often in the first few weeks of taking a new blood pressure medication, when the body is adjusting to it. If the drug overshoots its mark a bit, you could feel lightheaded or dizzy.

“It’s safest to start low and go slow,” Dr. Lipsitz says. “If you start at a small medication dose and you gradually increase it over time, the body adjusts better.”

Blood pressure advice for men with diabetes

Taking your pills together with breakfast can also cause problems. In some elderly men and men with diabetes or certain other health conditions, blood pressure can drop sharply in the hour or two after meals. “If people take a handful of medicines right before breakfast, the drugs take effect while the meal is also taking effect, and blood pressure can go quite low.”

In such cases, it helps to avoid large meals or meals high in carbohydrates. It would also be wise to take blood pressure medications before bed. There’s one exception: diuretics. They cause your body to excrete water, which lowers the blood pressure. But a diuretic taken at bedtime could end up sending you to the bathroom multiple times throughout the night.

Healthy lifestyle for good blood pressure

Medication is only one part of the solution to high blood pressure; lifestyle changes should be the other. “You get a bigger bang for your buck by lowering salt intake, exercising more, and losing weight if you are overweight,” Dr. Lipsitz says. These changes can reduce the number of drugs you need to take, and pay many other health dividends.

For the latest on the blood pressure topic read Blood pressure normal? Maybe now it isn’t.

Image: © Cecilie_Arcurs | GettyImages

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Can your blood pressure be too low?

Recent findings raise concerns about lowering diastolic blood pressure — the second number in your blood pressure reading — too far.

Published: July, 2017


Image: © Wavebreakmedia/Thinkstock

More of us than ever before are taking medications to lower our blood pressure. Longstanding guidelines suggest that most people should aim for a systolic blood pressure (the first number in a reading) no higher than 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). But in 2015, the results of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) suggested that reaching a target of 120 mm Hg could further reduce the risks associated with high blood pressure, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and death.

Yet reaching that lower target often requires three blood pressure medications, which can increase the likelihood of side effects. Two observational studies and one clinical trial have raised concerns about lowering blood pressure — particularly diastolic pressure — too far. Diastolic blood pressure (the second number in a reading) represents the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes. “When your systolic blood pressure gets too low, it can manifest as lightheadedness, fainting, and weakness. But low diastolic pressure by itself doesn’t have any symptoms,” says Dr. Paul Conlin, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of medicine at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

What the studies found — and what they mean

In one of the observational studies, published Oct. 16, 2016, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 11,000 adults collected over a period of three decades as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. They found that people who had low diastolic blood pressure (60 to 69 mm Hg) were twice as likely to have subtle evidence of heart damage compared with people whose diastolic blood pressure was 80 to 89 mm Hg. Low diastolic values were also linked with a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause over 21 years.

For the second, published Oct. 29, 2016, in The Lancet, researchers analyzed data from CLARIFY, a registry of more than 22,600 people with heart disease from 45 countries. They determined that, compared with people who had systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 70 to 79, people with a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher were more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes, to be hospitalized with heart failure, or to die within a five-year period. But the same was true for heart attacks, heart failure, and death in people with low blood pressure (systolic pressure below 120 mm Hg and diastolic pressure under 70 mm Hg).

In an analysis published online April 5, 2017, by The Lancet, German researchers pooled data from two clinical trials involving 31,000 men and women ages 55 or older who had cardiovascular disease or advanced diabetes. Participants were assigned to take either ramipril (Altace), telmisartan (Micardis, Activin), both drugs, or neither drug for about five years. The researchers determined that systolic pressures below 120 mm Hg and diastolic pressures below 70 mm Hg were associated with an increased risk of dying from heart disease or any cause compared with systolic pressures between 120 mm Hg and 140 mm Hg and diastolic pressures between 70 and 80 mm Hg. Diastolic pressures of less than 70 mm Hg were also associated with an increased risk of having a heart attack and hospital-ization for heart failure.

Why diastolic pressure is important, too

The findings about low diastolic blood pressure are intriguing, and they make sense intuitively, Dr. Conlin says. Diastolic pressure is measured during the point in the heart cycle when blood flows into the coronary arteries that feed the heart. When those arteries are clogged with fatty deposits, blood pressure beyond the narrowed areas will drop as blood works its way through the narrowed channels. As a result, part of the heart muscle may not get enough blood. Starved for oxygen and nutrients, the heart may become weak and prone to damage.

What to do if you have high blood pressure

If you have heart disease, you may want to check that your diastolic blood pressure doesn’t fall too far below 70 mm Hg, which can happen when you try to reach a low systolic number. “For a systolic blood pressure goal, I tend to be comfortable with a value of around 130,” Dr. Conlin says. Going lower than that carries an increased risk of side effects and other adverse events.

Everyone is unique. Your medical history, current state of health, lifestyle, and willingness to take additional medication and accept certain risks all play a role in determining your blood pressure goal and how to achieve it. Talk to your doctor about the strategy that makes the most sense for you.

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Low Blood Pressure

The Facts

Given that people with high blood pressure (hypertension) are far more likely than others to die prematurely of heart disease and stroke, you might think that low blood pressure would be a good thing. However, abnormally low blood pressure, also called hypotension, can cause problems as well.

At the most basic level, hypotension can cause dizziness or blurry vision, which may increase the risk of falling or contribute to accidents. In more serious cases, it reduces the blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. This decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients being delivered to these organs and impairs their ability to carry out normal functions. Hypotension may also indicate a more serious underlying health condition.

As blood travels throughout your body, it presses against the walls of your blood vessels, just like water in a hose or air in a tire. This is called blood pressure. When your heart beats (contracts), squeezing blood out and pumping it into your arteries, blood pressure peaks. This is called your systolic pressure. Between heartbeats, when your heart relaxes and blood flows back into it, your blood pressure is lower. This is your diastolic pressure.

A blood pressure reading measures these two pressures and expresses them as two numbers, your systolic pressure over your diastolic pressure. Normal blood pressure for adults is lower than 120/80 mm Hg (mm Hg means “millimetres of mercury,” referring to a pressure-measuring device similar to a thermometer).

Blood pressure changes throughout the day and varies from person to person. Various factors affect blood pressure, including your body position, breathing rhythm, stress level, physical activity, medications, what you eat or drink, and the time of the day (blood pressure is usually lowest at night when you sleep and rises when you wake up). In healthy individuals, your body responds and adapts to these changes to keep your blood pressure within a normal range. This ensures that vital organs, such as your brain and kidneys, receive a constant blood flow and nutrient supply.

When the systolic pressure drops below 90 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure falls below 60 mm Hg, this is categorized as low blood pressure. Some people may have low pressure all the time and this may be normal for them. If they do not experience any other signs or symptoms, medical treatment may not be necessary for them. Low blood pressure becomes a concern when it is accompanied by noticeable symptoms, such as dizziness, fainting and, in severe cases, shock. When this occurs, people should seek medical attention to determine if an underlying condition may be responsible for their hypotension.

Causes

Hypotension occurs when the body is unable to maintain blood pressure within a healthy range. Hypotension can be caused by a variety of factors and can affect people of all ages. However, there are certain types of hypotension that are more likely to affect certain age groups than others.

Orthostatic hypotension occurs when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up from a sitting or lying down position. This more commonly affects older adults.

Neurally mediated hypotension (NMH) results when a person has been standing for a long period of time or after having an unpleasant or upsetting experience. This is commonly referred to as fainting. Young children are more likely than adults to experience this form of hypotension, and will often outgrow NMH or a tendency to faint easily.

Low blood pressure can occur for some people after eating. This is called postprandial hypotension.

Other factors may cause low blood pressure:

  • dehydration: When the body fluids are being lost at a rate faster than they can be replaced, a person’s blood pressure may fall. Dehydration may be caused by vomiting, fever, severe diarrhea, or strenuous exercise.
  • certain medical conditions:
    • thyroid disorders
    • Addison’s disease
    • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
    • heart problems (e.g., heart attack, heart failure, valvular heart disease, a very low heart rate)
    • nervous system disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s disease) – may affect the communication between your brain and the rhythmic pumping of your heart
  • medications: Certain medications used to treat high blood pressure, angina, Parkinson’s disease, or depression increase the risk of developing hypotension.
  • pregnancy: A woman’s circulatory system changes while she is pregnant. Blood vessels expand slightly, decreasing blood pressure. These changes usually go away after delivery.
  • shock: The most severe form of hypotension is shock. This occurs when blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels, seriously impairing adequate blood flow to vital organs, such as the brain and kidneys. Shock can be caused by major blood loss (e.g., caused by external or internal bleeding), severe infections, burns, or allergic reactions.

Symptoms and Complications

In certain instances, people may experience low blood pressure but otherwise feel fine. Hypotension becomes a concern when it is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • blurry vision
  • cold, clammy, pale skin
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fast breathing
  • fast heartbeat
  • fatigue
  • inability to concentrate
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • sleepiness
  • weakness

In the case of shock, a person may at first experience any of the above signs or symptoms. Over time, without immediate medical attention, a person may become unconscious.

Making the Diagnosis

Low blood pressure is diagnosed by a doctor when they check your blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer. For people who experience low blood pressure without other symptoms, it may only require regular monitoring by a doctor during routine exams, and medical treatment may not be necessary. If certain signs suggest an underlying condition, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests to diagnose a cause for your hypotension:

  • blood tests – will provide information about a person’s overall health
  • electrocardiogram (ECG) – measures the heart’s electrical activity and helps to identify potential problems affecting blood supply and oxygen delivery to the heart
  • echocardiogram – provides information about the size, shape, and functioning of the heart
  • stress test – examines your heart’s ability to function when it is stressed by physical exercise or with medication that simulates the effect of exercise on the heart
  • Valsalva manoeuvre – tests the autonomic component of your nervous system that is responsible for controlling your heart rate and blood pressure (It involves forceful exhaling from the lungs without letting the air escape through your mouth or nose.)
  • tilt table test – usually recommended if your doctor suspects you might have orthostatic hypotension or NMH (During this diagnostic test, a person lies on a table and then the table is tilted to raise the upper part of their body. This simulates the change in position from sitting or lying down to standing up. People with orthostatic hypotension or NMH may feel dizzy, lightheaded, or even faint when their position changes.)

Treatment and Prevention

Depending on the cause(s) for your low blood pressure, certain lifestyle modifications or medications might help prevent and reduce your symptoms. If there is an underlying medical condition, managing the medical condition will resolve the low blood pressure.

There are a few lifestyle changes that can help with low blood pressure:

  • Drink more fluids, like water, to help with dehydration. Limit your alcohol intake. Even in moderation, alcohol can cause dehydration.
  • Wear compression stockings to prevent blood from pooling in your lower limbs and help improve blood flow throughout your body.
  • Change body positions slowly. Take your time when standing up.
  • Increasing your salt intake can help with low blood pressure. But excessive salt intake can lead to an unhealthy increase in blood pressure. These dietary changes should only be made if recommended by your doctor.
  • Your doctor may recommend changes to your medications if they are the cause for your hypotension. Fludrocortisone* and midodrine are two medications that your doctor may prescribe in special circumstances to help control low blood pressure.
  • In the case of shock, seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Shock is life-threatening and needs to be treated by medical personnel.

*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Low-Blood-Pressure

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