Blood pressure is a crucial indicator of our health, reflecting how forcefully our blood pushes against the walls of our arteries as the heart pumps.
While much attention is given to high blood pressure (hypertension) due to its known risks, low blood pressure (hypotension) can also be a cause for concern.
This review aims to demystify the causes of low blood pressure and discuss practical ways to manage it.
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers: the systolic (upper number) measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, and the diastolic (lower number) measures the pressure when your heart rests between beats.
Hypotension is generally considered when blood pressure readings are lower than 90 mm Hg systolic or 60 mm Hg diastolic.
While it can be a sign of excellent health in some individuals, in others, it may indicate underlying problems, especially if symptoms like dizziness, fainting, or fatigue are present.
Several factors and conditions can cause low blood pressure. One of the most common is dehydration. When the body loses more water than it takes in, it can cause weakness, dizziness, and fatigue.
In more severe cases, dehydration can lead to low blood pressure because there’s not enough blood circulating through the body.
Another reason for low blood pressure can be heart issues.
Conditions such as extremely low heart rate (bradycardia), heart valve problems, heart attack, and heart failure can prevent the heart from pumping enough blood through the body, leading to a drop in blood pressure.
Endocrine problems, including underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), can also cause low blood pressure.
Additionally, certain medications, such as diuretics, alpha blockers, beta blockers, drugs for Parkinson’s disease, and certain types of antidepressants, are known to lower blood pressure as a side effect.
A significant drop in blood pressure can occur when you suddenly stand up from sitting or lying down. This condition, known as postural hypotension, happens because gravity causes blood to pool in your legs when you stand.
Normally, your body compensates by increasing your heart rate and constricting certain blood vessels to help maintain blood pressure. However, in some people, this mechanism fails, leading to dizziness or fainting.
To manage low blood pressure, the first step is identifying the underlying cause. If medication is the culprit, adjusting the dosage or changing the medication can help.
For conditions like dehydration, increasing fluid and salt intake can be beneficial. Simple lifestyle changes, such as drinking more water, wearing compression stockings to improve blood flow, and avoiding alcohol, can also make a difference.
For those experiencing postural hypotension, simple techniques like slowly standing up, crossing your legs while standing, or elevating the head of your bed can help manage symptoms. In more severe cases, medication may be required to increase blood pressure.
It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, especially if these symptoms are new or have suddenly become worse.
A healthcare provider can help determine the cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.
In conclusion, while low blood pressure can be a sign of good health in some individuals, it can also indicate underlying health issues in others.
Understanding the common causes and knowing how to manage low blood pressure through lifestyle adjustments, dietary changes, or medication can significantly improve one’s quality of life.
If you suspect you have hypotension, especially if symptomatic, seeking medical advice is crucial to ensure you receive the appropriate care.
If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about unhealthy habits that may increase high blood pressure risk, and drinking green tea could help lower blood pressure.
For more information about high blood pressure, please see recent studies about what to eat or to avoid for high blood pressure, and 12 foods that lower blood pressure.
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