Low Blood Pressure – Treatments & Causes
Blood pressure is defined as the pressure that the circulating blood exerts on the walls of blood vessels. Keeping blood pressure to normal is desirable to push nutrients and oxygen to all body tissues.
Blood pressure is also responsible to carry white blood cells, antibodies, platelets, hormones etc. Through white blood cells, immunity is provided to the body.
The optimal blood pressure value is 120/80 mm(millimeters) of Hg(Mercury). The upper value is called as systolic pressure and the lower value is called as diastolic blood pressure.
The systolic blood pressure is caused by the heart’s contraction and diastolic pressure is the lower pressure in the arteries during the resting period between two heartbeats.
The blood pressure is measured with the help of an instrument called as “sphygmomanometer”.
Normal Range of Blood Pressure:
The normal range of blood pressure is systolic blood pressure 90-119 mm of Hg and diastolic blood pressure is 60-84 mm of Hg.
Low Blood Pressure:
low blood pressure is also called “Hypotension”. It is diagnosed as systolic blood pressure as < 90 mm of Hg and diastolic blood pressure as <60 mm of Hg.
While blood pressure is desirable and good, in some other people a very low value of blood pressure or low hypotension can cause dizziness and fainting.
Chronic blood pressure low can result in health problems when blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain is deprived of adequate blood supply.
In extreme cases, blood pressure can be life-threatening. Blood pressure can also be a sign of some underlying untreated condition that requires medical attention.
Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure :
Hypotension occurs when the blood pressure falls below 90/60 mm of Hg. Symptoms of Hypotension can be mild to severe depending on the individual human being.
Following are the symptoms of hypotension:
- Clammy skin
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurry vision
Extreme cases of Hypotension is life-threatening :
- In extreme cases, Hypotension or blood pressure can cause an inadequate flow of blood to vital organs of the body like brain and heart and can cause strokes, heart attack, kidney failure, and shocks.
- Symptoms of shock include:
- Confusion, especially in older people
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Weak and rapid pulse
Conditions of low blood pressure :
The causes of blood pressure low or hypotension may associate with any of the following conditions:
- Heat stroke
- Hormonal problems such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes or hypoglycemia.
- Side effects of some medications
- Chronic Heart Failure (CHF)
- Abnormal arrhythmias
- Dilation of arteries and veins
- Liver problem
Causes of a sudden drop in Blood Pressure:
A sudden drop in the blood pressure can be risky and life-threatening. This sudden drop may be because of any one of the following causes:
- Excess bleeding due to accident or injury
- Abnormal body temperature whether too high or too low
- Sepsis or blood infection
- Severe dehydration from vomiting, fever or diarrhea
- Severe allergic reaction
- Anaphylaxis shock
- Overreaction to alcohol or medication
Medications that can cause low blood pressure :
Following are some of the medicines that can cause blood pressure low:
- Diuretics such as furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide
- Alpha blockers
- Beta Blockers
- Drugs for treating Parkinson’s disease such as pramipexole and levodopa
- Antidepressants like doxepin and imipramine
- Drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction like sildenafil or tadalafil particularly when taken along with nitroglycerin
Types of Low Blood Pressure:
Depending on the causes and risk factors, blood pressure low or hypotension is categorizing into the following types:
- Orthostatic or Postural Hypotension: This type of blood pressure low occurs suddenly when you stand up from a sitting position or after lying down.
Orthostatic or postural hypotension can occur due to dehydration, prolonged bed rest, pregnancy, diabetes, heart problems, burns, excessive heat, large varicose veins, and certain neurological disorders or as the result of side effects of various medications.
- Postprandial Hypotension: This type of blood pressure low occurs after eating especially in elderly people. Postprandial hypotension can occur with people suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) or with Parkinson’s disease.
- Neurally mediated Hypotension: This type of blood pressure low occurs from faulty signals between the heart and brain and mostly affects young adults and children.
- Multiple System Atrophy with Orthostatic Hypotension: This type of blood pressure low occurs due to nervous system damage. This is also call Shy-Drager syndrome and is due to damage of autonomous nervous system.
Low Blood Pressure Treatment :
Treatment depends on the underlying causes of blood pressure low. If the exact cause is not known then the aim is to raise the blood pressure and reduce symptoms of blood pressure low.
Depending on the age, health, and type of hypotension, several steps can be taken even at home like:
- Eat Appropriate Salt: Excess sodium in salt is usually associate with high blood pressure but if you have a sign of blood pressure low, then eating more salt can work to reduce the sign of blood pressure low.
But this should check with the doctor especially in older adults in whom excess sodium can cause CHF (Chronic Heart Failure).
- Drink More Water: Excess fluids increase blood volume. More blood volume means more blood pressure. Excess fluids also prevent dehydration which also treats hypotension.
- Wear compression stockings: The elastic stockings can reduce the pooling of blood and can treat hypotension.
- Medications: In case of emergency or chronic problem doctor may prescribe you medications that treat blood pressure like fludrocortisone, midodrine etc.
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