Low blood pressure may appear desirable, and it may not cause any problems for some people. However, abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension) can cause dizziness and fainting in many people. In severe cases, low blood pressure can be fatal.
Low blood pressure is defined as less than 90 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) for the top number (systolic) or 60 mm Hg for the bottom number (diastolic). Low blood pressure can be caused by anything from dehydration to serious medical conditions. It is critical to determine what is causing your low blood pressure so that it can be treated.
Low blood pressure may indicate an underlying problem for some people, especially if it drops suddenly or is accompanied by signs and symptoms such as:
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Vision blurring or fading
Shock Sufficiency of concentration
This life-threatening condition can occur as a result of severe hypotension. Among the signs and symptoms are:
- Confusion, particularly among the elderly
- Skin that’s cold, clammy, and pale
- Breathing quickly and shallowly
- The pulse is weak and rapid.
- When should you see a doctor?
- Seek emergency medical attention if you have signs or symptoms of shock.
If your blood pressure readings are consistently low but you feel fine, your doctor will most likely just monitor you during routine exams.
If your blood pressure readings are consistently low but you feel fine, your doctor will most likely just monitor you during routine exams. Even minor dizziness or light-headedness may occur as a result of mild dehydration from spending too much time in the sun or a hot tub, for example. Nonetheless, if you have signs or symptoms of low blood pressure, you should see your doctor because they can indicate more serious problems. Keeping a record of your symptoms, when they occur, and what you’re doing at the time can be beneficial.
The pressure in your arteries during the active and resting phases of each heartbeat is measured by blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure. The top number in a blood pressure reading represents the amount of pressure produced by your heart when it pumps blood through your arteries to the rest of your body.
Diastolic blood pressure. When your heart is at rest between beats, the bottom number in a blood pressure reading refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries.
According to current guidelines, normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
Throughout the day, blood pressure fluctuates depending on:
- Position of the body
- Breathing pattern
- The level of stress
- The physical state
- The medications you are taking
- What you consume and ingest
- The time of day
At night, blood pressure is usually at its lowest.
How low can your blood pressure go?
What you consider to be low blood pressure may be normal for someone else. Blood pressure is considered too low by most doctors only if it causes symptoms.
Low blood pressure is defined by some experts as readings less than 90 mm Hg systolic or 60 mm Hg diastolic. If either number is less than that, your blood pressure is less than normal.
A rapid drop in blood pressure can be dangerous. When the brain does not receive enough blood, a change of just 20 mm Hg — a drop from 110 systolic to 90 mm Hg systolic, for example — can cause dizziness and fainting. Large drops, such as those caused by uncontrolled bleeding, severe infections, or allergic reactions, can be fatal.
Low blood pressure can be caused by a variety of factors
Low blood pressure can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, including:
Blood pressure is likely to fall during pregnancy because the circulatory system expands rapidly. This is normal, and your blood pressure should return to pre-pregnancy levels after you give birth.
Extremely low heart rate (bradycardia), heart valve problems, a heart attack, and heart failure are all examples of heart conditions that can cause low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure can be caused by parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), and, in some cases, diabetes.
When your body loses more water than it absorbs, you may experience weakness, dizziness, and fatigue. Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhoea, diuretic overuse, and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration.
Loss of blood
When you lose a lot of blood, such as from a major injury or internal bleeding, the amount of blood in your body decreases, resulting in a severe drop in blood pressure.
Infection that is severe (septicemia). When an infection in the body enters the bloodstream, it can cause septic shock, a potentially fatal drop in blood pressure.
A severe allergic reaction occurred (anaphylaxis)
Food, certain medications, insect venoms, and latex are common triggers of this severe and potentially fatal reaction. Anaphylaxis can result in difficulty breathing, hives, itching, a swollen throat, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
- Nutrient deficiency in your diet
A lack of vitamin B-12, folate, and iron can cause your body to produce insufficient red blood cells (anaemia), resulting in low blood pressure.
Types of blood pressure
Doctors frequently categorise low blood pressure (hypotension) based on the causes and other factors. The following are some examples of low blood pressure:
- Standing hypotension (orthostatic or postural hypotension)
This is a drop in blood pressure that occurs when you stand up from a seated position or after lying down. When you stand, gravity causes blood to pool in your legs. Normally, your body compensates by increasing your heart rate and constricting blood vessels, ensuring that sufficient blood returns to your brain. However, in people with orthostatic hypotension, this compensatory mechanism fails, and blood pressure drops, causing dizziness, heart disease, blurred vision, and even fainting.
A variety of medications, including diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure, as well as antidepressants and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease and erectile dysfunction, can cause orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is more common in older people, but it can also affect young, otherwise healthy people who stand up suddenly after sitting with their legs crossed for long periods of time or after squatting for a period of time.
2. After-meal hypotension (postprandial hypotension)
This drop in blood pressure occurs one to two hours after eating and primarily affects elderly people. After you eat, blood flows to your digestive tract. To help maintain normal blood pressure, your body normally increases your heart rate and constricts certain blood vessels. However, in some people, these mechanisms fail, resulting in dizziness, fainting, and falls.
People with high blood pressure or autonomic nervous system disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, are more likely to experience postprandial hypotension. Eating small, low-carbohydrate meals, drinking plenty of water, and abstaining from alcohol may help alleviate symptoms.
3. Low blood pressure as a result of faulty brain signals (neurally mediated hypotension)
This disorder, which causes a drop in blood pressure after prolonged standing, primarily affects young adults and children. It appears to be caused by a breakdown in communication between the heart and the brain.
4. Because of nervous system damage, you have low blood pressure (multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension)
This rare disorder, also known as Shy-Drager syndrome, exhibits many symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. It gradually harms the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and digestion. It’s linked to having extremely high blood pressure while lying down.
Low blood pressure (hypotension) can affect anyone, but certain types are more common depending on your age or other factors:
Blood pressure drops when standing or after eating is most common in adults over the age of 65. Children and young adults are the most vulnerable to neutrally mediated hypotension.
People who take certain medications, such as high blood pressure medications like alpha-blockers, are at a higher risk of developing low blood pressure.
c) Certain illnesses
Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and certain heart conditions all increase your chances of developing low blood pressure.
What you should eat
Certain foods can help you increase your blood pressure. To see what works, keep track of your symptoms and take regular blood pressure readings. Attempt to consume:
a) More liquids
Dehydration reduces blood volume, resulting in a drop in blood pressure. It is especially important to stay hydrated when exercising.
b) Vitamin B-12-rich foods
A lack of vitamin B-12 can cause a type of anaemia, which can cause low blood pressure and fatigue. Eggs, fortified cereals, animal meats, and nutritional yeast are all high in B-12.
c) Foods that are high in folate
Anaemia can also be caused by a lack of folate. Asparagus, beans, lentils, citrus fruits, leafy greens, eggs, and liver are examples of folate-rich foods.
Consuming salty foods can raise blood pressure. Consume canned soup, smoked fish, cottage cheese, pickled vegetables, and olives.
Caffeinated coffee and tea can temporarily raise blood pressure by stimulating the cardiovascular system and increasing heart rate.
Suggestions for Preventing Low Blood Pressure
Consult your healthcare provider or a dietitian for suggestions on healthy foods to include on your shopping list. There are some things you can do to change your daily habits that may help as well.
If you suspect you have anaemia, see your doctor for testing to determine the type of anaemia and the best treatment options. Here are a few other dietary changes you can make to help raise your blood pressure:
- Consume smaller meals more frequently
Larger meals can cause more dramatic drops in blood pressure because your body has to work harder to digest them.
- Drink plenty of water and keep alcohol to a minimum
Dehydration causes blood pressure to drop.
Aside from changing your diet, you may be able to raise your blood pressure by making the following lifestyle changes:
- Take frequent breaks and increase your hydration efforts if you exercise outside in extreme heat.
- Avoid prolonged use of saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms, which can cause dehydration.
- Slowly shift your body position (for example, standing up).
- Avoid excessive bed rest.
- Wear compression stockings to assist blood flow back up from your legs and feet. They are available for purchase online.
Blood pressure can be affected by a variety of medical conditions, ageing, and medications. Work with your healthcare provider to ensure that your blood pressure is at a healthy level for you. Certain foods may also have an effect on blood pressure levels.
If you’re attempting to raise your blood pressure through diet, consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional requirements.