Introduction to Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is the condition in which the systolic pressure lies below 90 mmHg and diastolic pressure falls below 60 mmHg. Blood pressure is commonly measured in millimeters of mercury and pressure up to 120/80 is considered normal in the adult population.
Hypotension is common in the general population. Study shows that it is associated with certain body status such as thin body structure, with lower creatinine value. However, it is supposed to carry a generally not harmful or benign cardiovascular risk factor profile.
Although hypotension generally shows benign effects on human health, it sometimes is a symptom of a different health concern. Conditions such as plaque build-up, age-related medical conditions, heart disorders also show symptoms of hypotension. So, it is necessary to give attention to signs of hypotension in its early stages.
Types of hypotension
There are different classifications based on the situation when the pressure drops.
If the pressure drops down when a person transitions from lying down or sitting position to standing, then it is called orthostatic hypotension. It is the common cause of hypotension in people of all ages and gender. It is accompanied by “seeing stars” when getting up.
The pressure drops down right after having a meal and it is called postprandial hypotension. In addition, it is considered the type of orthostatic hypotension. This is likely to affect older adults, especially those who have Parkinson’s disease.
Naturally Mediated Hypotension
It happens after standing for a long time. And, this type of hypotension is more common in children than in adults. Emotional upsets trigger this type of hypotension.
It is mostly related to shock. During shock, the body organs can’t get sufficient blood and oxygen to function properly. So severe hypotension is sometimes life-threatening if left untreated.
Blood Pressure Chart
What are the causes of low blood pressure?
Blood exerts pressure on the wall of arteries during the expansion and contraction of the heart. So, it is a vital sign of the health status of the individual. So, pressure measurement is an important routine check-up in every medical test, along with body temperature measurement, pulse rate, and rate of respiration measurement.
The blood pressure of every human being drop-down sometimes and it often shows no noticeable symptoms. But there are some particular conditions that can cause prolonged low blood pressure and may become risky if left untreated. Some of the major conditions include:
- Infections of blood and the bloodstream
- A large quantity of blood loss from injured body parts
- During pregnancy due to the high demand for blood for both mother and growing fetus
- Certain heart disorders like heart attacks and faulty heart valves
- Severe allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock
- Weakness and shock associated with dehydration
What are the symptoms of Low Blood Pressure?
Symptoms are prominent when pressure plummeted below 90/60 mmHg. Most people with hypotension show the following symptoms.
- Cold, clammy skin
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Pale skin
- Dimming or blurring of vision
- Chest pain
- Increased thirst
Symptoms may vary from slight discomfort to quite ill based on severity.
There is a standard device, a sphygmomanometer, to measure pressure. A cuff is wrapped around the upper arm and the cuff is inflated. Here, the inflated cuff restricts the flow of blood and a manometer measures the pressure.
Another type of sphygmomanometer is a digital one. There are electrical sensors to measure the pressure.
Prevention Of Low Blood Pressure
Modification in lifestyle is required to prevent hypotension. Important preventive tips include:
- Eating a small number of meals frequently
- Drinking plenty of water daily
- Avoiding sitting and standing still for a long period
- Raise the head side of the bed by six inches with the help of bricks
- Not changing position or posture suddenly
- Avoiding drinking caffeinated drinks in the evening and not drinking excessive alcohol
Prompt treatment of low blood pressure
Hypotensive people with no signs and symptoms or very mild symptoms require no treatment. But if there are the above-mentioned signs of underlying problems, the patient needs to be referred to a specialist.
If hypotension is due to medication, the dose should be altered. In addition, other medicines need to be prescribed if possible.
Fluid and salt intake should be increased. Salt intake, however, can be increased by adding more salt to a meal or by taking salt tablets.
To increase blood volume and thus reduce the risk of hypotension, fluid intake should be increased. It’s always better to consult medical specialists before making significant changes in a lifestyle.
- P E Owens, et al. (2000), Arterial hypotension: prevalence of low blood pressure in the general population using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
- Blood Pressure UK, Blood Pressure Chart
- Alfred F (1924), CLINICAL TYPES OF HYPOTENSION