Low blood pressure is when your reading is lower than 90/60 mm Hg (90 millimetres of mercury for the systolic reading and 60 for the diastolic). It is also known as hypotension. It occurs as a condition or a symptom. Your blood pressure is the force pushing the blood through your arteries. When the arteries contract, this is known as systolic pressure. When they expand, this is the diastolic pressure.
Healthy blood pressure depends on age and physical activity. For people who are 18-40, healthy blood pressure is around 110/68 mm Hg. For 40-59 years, it’s 122/74 mm Hg. And for 60+ years, it’s 139/68 mm Hg. The all-around average for healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg.
Low blood pressure can cause dizziness and fatigue. This can be a sign of an underlying condition, and you should see a doctor if this is frequent.
Types of low blood pressure
Hypotension is classified based on what causes it.
Orthostatic hypotension happens when you stand up after sitting or lying down. It’s also called postural hypotension. It’s what happens when you “see spots” when you get up. This occurs more often in older people. Orthostatic blood pressure is caused by dehydration, extended bed rest, pregnancy, or Parkinson’s disease. Studies show it also affects at least 30% of people with diabetes.
This is the drop in blood pressure up to two hours after eating. Research shows it’s more common in adults with autoimmune disorders like Parkinson’s and older people. You can reduce symptoms by eating small low-carb meals, drinking more water, and avoiding alcohol.
This happens when there is miscommunication between the heart and brain. It occurs when you’ve been standing for long periods. It also happens when you experience a shock and sudden scary news.
This rare disorder affects the part of the nervous system that controls blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and digestion. It’s associated with high blood pressure when seated.
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Medications to treat high blood pressure can lead to hypotension.
Heart, liver, kidney, and hormonal conditions can also lead to low blood pressure. It is also caused by Vitamin B-12, folate, and iron deficiencies.
Causes of low blood pressure
Some people have consistently low blood pressure. There is no scientific explanation for why this is the case.
Eating, standing up too quickly, and sudden shock can also lead to low blood pressure.
Certain conditions such as pregnancy, heart conditions, dehydration, diabetes, thyroid disease, nerve damage, prolonged bed rest, anaphylaxis, blood loss, and infections can lead to low blood pressure.
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Medications such as beta-blockers, which treat heart disease, can cause hypotension. Diuretics, drugs that help the body expel water, can lead to low blood pressure. Other medications include antidepressants and erectile dysfunction treatments. Your doctor can adjust the dosage if the hypotension is too severe.
Low blood pressure doesn’t always have symptoms. However, it can mean that your organs aren’t getting enough oxygen and nutrients so some symptoms will pop up.
Hypotension symptoms include:
- Feeling like you can faint
- Clammy skin
- Low mood or depression
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurred vision
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Your doctor will look at your medical history to determine the type of hypotension you’re experiencing and how your situation is causing it.
Changing habits can improve low blood pressure. Drinking plenty of water reduces the risk of dehydration. If you have conditions that can lead to dehydration, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, you should take water. You can also take drinks containing electrolytes to keep your blood pressure higher.
Plan to get support for emotional situations that can lead to feeling dizzy or fainting. If you get hypotension from standing too long, do in-place exercises such as flexing your legs or squats. If possible, sit for a few minutes in between duties.
Stand up slowly if you’ve been sitting for a long time. Slow, deep breathing can help keep your blood pressure steady. Eat smaller meals throughout the day. Avoid standing up suddenly after eating.
Medications can help raise severe low blood pressure when other treatments don’t work for orthostatic hypotension. Extremely low blood pressure from shock is treated with fluids to help raise the blood pressure. Low blood pressure is a silent killer. You should see a doctor if you get faint or dizzy often and headaches and fatigue accompany it.
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