The Lowdown on Low Blood Pressure
Most people worry about having high blood pressure. But for some people, low blood
pressure (hypotension) is a big worry.
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. Low blood pressure is generally defined
as a blood pressure lower than 90/60 mmHg, linked with symptoms. . Having a blood
pressure that is too low can mean your vital organs don't get the oxygen and blood
they need to work normally. Older adults may have symptoms of dizziness and light-headedness
when their blood pressure drops lower than usual. But most people with blood pressure
in the lower ranges are young and healthy and have no symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
These are symptoms of low blood pressure:
These are possible causes of low blood pressure:
Medicine. This includes medicine for high blood pressure, anxiety, heart problems,
Parkinson disease, erectile dysfunction, prostate conditions, and depression. Other
prescription and over-the-counter medicines may cause low blood pressure when taken
with medicines for high blood pressure.
Standing up quickly (orthostatic, or postural hypotension). This is a sudden decrease
in blood pressure that happens when you stand up after sitting or lying down. This
can cause dizziness, blurred vision, and fainting.
After a meal (postprandial). This is common, especially in older adults and people
with diabetes. It usually occurs 1 to 2 hours after eating a high-carbohydrate meal.
Healthcare providers aren't sure of the cause, but it may be related to the body's
response to carbohydrates. Or it may be tied to blood pooling in the digestive tract.
Alcohol makes it worse.
Heart problems. These include a very low heart rate, heart attack, and heart failure.
Dehydration, shock, advanced diabetes, and thyroid problems
Genetics. Some people have naturally low blood pressure because of their genes.
Vasovagal or neurocardiogenic syncope. Low blood pressure can be set off by stressful
situations or medicines. This occurs when certain nerves that help control blood pressure
lose their tone. This causes fainting.
Severe anemia. This can be caused by low levels of iron, vitamin B-12, or folic acid.
Endocrine problems. These can affect the hormones that help regulate blood pressure.
Bleeding. Loss of blood can cause low blood pressure. This can be bleeding in the
digestive tract or bleeding from injury or trauma.
Nervous system diseases. These can also affect the autonomic nervous system.
Many healthy people who have low blood pressure and no symptoms don't need treatment. Most
people with long-term (chronic) low blood pressure who have symptoms can be safely
treated with medicine and lifestyle changes. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
Actions to help control your low blood pressure may include:
Drink more water and even increase how much salt you have in some cases.
Take medicines to raise blood pressure or adjust medicines that cause low blood pressure
as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Don't drink alcohol. It can cause dehydration. Alcohol also changes how well medicines
Slow down. You may be able to reduce lightheadedness by taking it easy when you move
from lying down to standing position. Instead of jumping out of bed in the morning,
slowly sit up on the edge before standing. Wiggle your feet and move your legs. This
will get your heart rate up and increase circulation.
Wear compression stockings if you stand for long periods of time.