With each heartbeat, your blood is pushed against the arteries, and this is your blood pressure. Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is a condition where your heart is not pushing blood through the body as strongly as needed.
Your blood pressure is measured with each heartbeat. While you want a lower blood pressure reading such as 90/60, having one that is too low can be a sign of an underlying health condition.
There are occasions in every person’s life where blood pressure drops, and from time to time, this is normal. In these cases, there are no apparent symptoms. When low blood pressure is sustained over longer periods of time, symptoms become noticeable, and you could have a medical condition that needs attention.
The factors that can cause you to have prolonged periods of low blood pressure include:
♦ Loss of blood (large amounts) due to an injury
♦ Weakness, as a result of severe dehydration or shock
♦ Pregnancy (increased demands on the body from the growing baby)
♦ Hormonal changes
♦ Impaired circulation due to faulty heart valves
♦ Medications like beta-blockers, diuretics, and antidepressants
Prolonged periods of low blood pressure can cause noticeable symptoms, especially once the reading drops below the low blood pressure range of 90/60. Dangerously low blood pressure is any sudden drop in pressure or any reading that falls below the average.
Signs of low blood pressure will also vary between individuals, ranging from mild to making you feel very sick. The most common symptoms include:
♦ Clammy skin
♦ Blurry vision
♦ Loss of consciousness
Low blood pressure can be temporary, but there can also be an underlying condition causing the sudden and chronic drops in blood pressure. Common health conditions that are associated with hypotension include:
♦ Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid can impair thyroid hormone production, which results in fatigue and reduced blood pressure.
♦ Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar levels in the blood cause blood pressure to drop at the same time as an increased heart rate, increasing the risk for heart failure.
♦ Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to hypoglycemia, which causes low blood pressure, dizziness, and fatigue.
♦ Bradycardia: An abnormally low heart rate can cause lower blood pressure as blood is not circulated as efficiently as needed.
♦ Heart failure: This condition where blood is not pumped correctly through your body can result in low blood pressure. Hypotension is one of the first signs of heart disease and failure.
♦ Kidney failure: Low blood pressure is a common symptom of kidney failure. Lower blood pressure levels are especially dangerous to those with chronic kidney disease.
♦ Infection: Bacterial and viral infection in the bloodstream can cause disruptions to blood flow, resulting in lower blood pressure. Blood pressure should return to normal once the infection has passed.
♦ Malnutrition: When your body does not absorb the nutrients it needs, vital functions become impaired, and this includes blood circulation.
There are different classifications for low blood pressure, depending on when your blood pressure drops.
♦ Orthostatic: When your blood pressure drops as a result of changing positions, such a standing from a sitting position. This can happen to people of any age and results in a temporary dizzy sensation as blood flows in one direction too quickly.
♦ Postprandial: This drop in blood pressure occurs after eating and is a type of orthostatic hypotension. Individuals that are older or those with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to experience this type of pressure drop.
♦ Neurally-mediated: This happens after you have been standing for a long time. Emotionally upsetting events can also cause this type of drop in blood pressure. Children are more likely to experience this.
♦ Severe: Severe hypotension is directly related to shock, which occurs when your organs do not get enough blood and oxygen to function. If not treated, severe hypotension can be life-threatening.
Treatment for hypotension depends on the underlying cause. When conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or infection are the cause, then medications are the most common treatment.
You can treat orthostatic hypotension by changing positions slowly, making smaller movements, and not crossing your legs when you sit. Shock-related hypotension needs immediate treatment and involves fluids and blood products to increase your blood pressure and stabilize your readings.
A low blood pressure chart will help you keep track of your levels.
As there may be side effects associated with medications, many people prefer to try natural ingredients to help regulate their blood pressure. There are several beneficial ingredients that work to promote healthier blood pressure and optimal heart function. The heart-healthy ingredients you should try include:
♦ Pine bark has been found to regulate and control blood pressure, which can protect against heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
♦ Red yeast rice is a plant compound that prevents the reabsorption of cholesterol, thus preventing clogged arteries that can interfere with blood pressure.
♦ Niacin’s ability to lower cholesterol and blood lipid levels prevents damage to arteries that can impair circulation and blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Along with these natural treatments, there are also remedies you can try at home to help boost your blood pressure to healthier levels. Certain medications can cause low blood pressure as a side effect, so be sure to discuss these with your doctor. It is also important to drink plenty of water each day and to avoid alcohol, which causes dehydration and lower blood pressure.
Eating small meals frequently throughout the day is better than infrequent large meals and helps prevent spikes and dips in blood pressure. Eating more salt can help reverse low blood pressure, but you need to take care not to consume too much, as excess sodium can also contribute to high blood pressure.
You can also try compression stockings if you have really low blood pressure. This will reduce the amount of blood that can pool in your lower legs.
Low blood pressure on occasion is not a health problem, and in many cases, the symptoms are temporary. While you want to aim to keep your blood pressure at lower levels, it is important to monitor it and prevent severely low levels.
Seek medical attention should you notice the symptoms of chronic hypotension. With proper attention, underlying causes can be treated and blood pressure can be stabilized, and any serious complications can be prevented.