Low blood pressure (also called hypotension), is a tricky thing to define because there is no exact number which the medical field agrees upon as the threshold for low blood pressure. This is because low blood pressure is normally good. But, if your blood pressure becomes lower than normal for you, your vital organs will not be receiving enough blood. If your brain, lungs and kidneys aren’t getting enough blood, the consequences could be devastating.
As mentioned, there is no recognized threshold for low blood pressure as there is with high blood pressure. Basically, it depends on the person. For instance, in some cases a doctor might say that your systolic pressure (the first number) being lower than 100 is an indicator of low blood pressure, but in others, it would be perfectly fine. This is because low blood pressure as a diagnosis depends on individual factors i.e. blood pressure being lower in young, pregnant women. Therefore, the only true way to tell if you are experiencing low blood pressure is through the symptoms; the exact opposite holds true of high blood pressure.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of low blood pressure. It is important to note that if you have naturally low blood pressure, you aren’t likely to develop any of these symptoms, which is normal. But if you do not have naturally low blood pressure and you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you contact your physician immediately:
If you experience these symptoms when you first get up from a prone or sitting position, this is called postural or orthostatic hypotension. If you are experiencing these symptoms after consuming a large meal, this is known as postprandial hypotension.
It is important to note that low blood pressure symptoms are not always indicative of a long term problem. There are a number of factors which can contribute to a temporary drop in blood pressure and result in symptomology. For example, it isn’t uncommon for people to faint after standing for a long time in hot environments. Also, pain or strong emotions can cause blood pressure to drop temporarily, resulting in fainting. This doesn’t mean that you have problematic low blood pressure, just that you had an incident with low blood pressure. Still, a physician should always be consulted.
However, if you have regular symptoms of low blood pressure, your body is trying to tell you that your blood pressure controlling mechanisms aren’t working as they should. This causes your blood pressure to drop, a sure sign that a physician should be consulted. For those with postural hypotension, your control mechanisms do not respond fast enough when rising. This causes your blood to pool in your legs and a lack of blood flow to the brain ensues, leaving the victim woozy and dizzy.
With patients who experience postprandial hypotension, the blood flows to your digestive system after eating a large meal but your body does not regulate this flow. This causes other parts of your body that require blood flow lacking due to the lowered blood pressure caused by the increase flow to the digestive tract and lower blood flow from the heart.
Here are some common factors that play into a person developing low blood pressure:
Of course, there are many other contributing factors to low blood pressure so a physician is best to diagnose the cause.
While it may seem odd to think that those with high blood pressure also suffer from low blood pressure, the opposite holds true. Many people who have high blood pressure have pressures that actually fluctuate from low to high and back again. This can happen naturally, but can be exasperated by high blood pressure medications like diuretics and alpha-blockers. This can occur when the medicines lower blood pressure too much and may require a change in dosage or prescription.
The good news is that there are treatments for low blood pressure and many of them can be accomplished on your own. If you have naturally low blood pressure without any symptoms, you probably won’t need any treatment at all. If you are experiencing symptoms regardless of whether you have naturally or unnaturally low blood pressure, treatment will depend on the cause of your blood pressure drop.
Typically, blood pressure drop is either medicinally related, related to underlying causes or due to outside factors. By figuring out the cause of your low blood pressure, doctors will be able to tackle the problem on a case by case basis. Sometimes a specialist is called in, especially with symptoms like chronic fainting.
There are a number of things you can do on your own to help relieve your postural or postprandial hypotension:
Of course, there are medications that can be prescribed for low blood pressure. These are normally only administered after the above methods of treatment fail. These low blood pressure medicines can either increase how much salt is in your body or make your veins constrict, two methods used for combating low blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure Causes 62% of all Strokes and 49% of all Heart Attacks... Check your BP on the blood pressure chart. If the chart shows you are in the prehypertension or hypertension ranges, do something about it, even if it is just having a chat with your doctor. The blood pressure chart is for all adults regardless of age, as whilst your age rises, the thresholds for prehypertension and hypertension don't! (there is no blood pressure chart by age!) No matter what your age - if your BP is above 140/90 you should set about lowering it. You can record and monitor your readings on our printable blood pressure log.