Low Blood Pressure
While many of us are aware of the hazards of high blood pressure, low blood pressure is equally prevalent and dangerous. When blood pressure falls below the normal pressure level, which is 120/80 mmHg, it is regarded as low blood pressure or hypotension. Hypotension occurs due to the insufficient supply of oxygen (via the blood) to the heart and brain. Consequently, these vital organs cannot function properly, and as a result, they may be suffer damage that could be temporary or even permanent.
The force with which blood pushes against the walls of the arteries is known as blood pressure. When the heart pumps blood into the arteries, the pressure exerted on the arterial walls is known as systolic pressure. When the muscles relax and refill with blood, the pressure falls, and this is known as diastolic pressure. Both systolic and diastolic pressures are important. The normal pressure value is 120/80 mmHg, where 120 denotes the systolic pressure and 80 refers to the diastolic pressure. If blood pressure is 90/60 mmHg or less, it is referred to as low blood pressure. It should be noted, however, that blood pressure varies among people, and hence, if someone has a low blood pressure value, but shows no other signs or symptoms of low blood pressure, then he/she is not considered to have low blood pressure. In order to better understand or deal with low blood pressure, it is therefore important to understand the related signs and symptoms of low blood pressure.
So, is low blood pressure as bad as high blood pressure? Well, low BP lowers the risk of stroke, kidney disease, and heart diseases, but while this may make it appear to be almost desireable it does pose very serious health risks when it is considered low . If low blood pressure is accompanied with related signs and symptoms, it could lead to organ damage. In general, people who have an ideal body weight and who workout regularly tend to have lower than normal blood pressure. Low blood pressure as a health condition however does not refer to such individuals, but pertains to individuals in whom low blood pressure readings are low enough to pose a health risk.
Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure
Most people with low blood pressure show no symptoms. For such people, there are no underlying conditions causing the low blood pressure, and hence, no treatment is necessary. However, medical attention is vital when low blood pressure also leads to insufficient supply of blood to the brain and other vital organs. In such a scenario, underlying health conditions lead to hypotension. The common symptoms of hypotension are as follows:
- Blurred vision
- Increased thirst
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
Inadequate blood supply to the brain due to low blood pressure results in dizziness, fatigue, and lack of concentration. Changing positions such as going from a seated position to a standing position can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness as well. When one is standing, the blood moves toward the lower body, and this can lower blood pressure. Since the blood pressure of hypotension patients is already low, standing can lower the pressure even further, manifesting in symptoms such as lightheadedness and dizziness. Medically, this is referred to as orthostatic hypotension.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Some of the common causes for low blood pressure include the following:
- Medications: Some medicines such as diuretics that treat high blood pressure, heart medications like beta blockers, and angiotensin may cause low blood pressure. Medicines used to treat anxiety, depression, and central nervous disorders can increase the risk of orthostatic hypotension.
- Heart Problems: Some heart conditions such as extremely low heart rate, heart valve problems, and a heart attack can lead to low blood pressure. These conditions prevent the body from circulating enough blood, thus resulting in hypotension.
- Pregnancy: Many women experience low blood pressure during pregnancy as a womens circulatory system expands during this time.
Other Causes Include:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Endocrine problems
- Blood loss
- Severe infection
- Allergic reaction
Remedies for Low Blood Pressure
The treatment of hypotension will depend on the cause, especially if it is chronic hypotension. Hypotension resulting from an allergic reaction or an infection or shock, needs immediate medical attention. Some of the remedial measures include the following:
- Increasing your intake of fluids and minerals cures dehydration. Drinking adequate water (six to eight glasses a day) helps to avert dehydration as low blood pressure often leads to dehydration.
- Blood loss can be treated with blood transfusions and intravenous fluids.
- Maintaining proper leg movements like crossing the thighs in a scissors fashion helps to get relief as proper leg movements ensure that the blood flows more easily from the lower extremeties back to the heart.
- If medication is the cause, you would need to consult with your doctor to find an alternative, or experiment with dosages.
Mild hypotension does not require treatment and adding electrolytes to the diet can improve the condition. Here are some natural ways to control hypotension.
- Herbs such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper help to raise blood pressure. Moreover, they also help in the functioning of the kidneys.
- Intake of sodium (salt) helps to replace the electrolytes lost due to dehydration and improves blood pressure. A glass of lemon juice with a little salt and sugar would be ideal.
- One can also control chronic hypotension by practicing yoga. Yoga helps calm the mind, improves blood circulation, and balances the autonomous nervous system. Consult a yoga practitioner and enroll yourself in a good yoga program.
Diet for Low Blood Pressure
Following a healthy diet helps to maintain your general well being and making certain changes in your diet can also help control and manage specific ailments. Here are some diet tips for those suffering from low blood pressure.
- A healthy diet that incorporates foods from all the food groups provides nourishment that is necessary for the body and helps normalize blood pressure, thus relieving the symptoms.
- Small but more frequent meals instread of two large meals should also help to prevent blood pressure from dropping sharply.
- Limiting high carb foods like potatoes, rice, bread and pasta is advised.
- Drinks containing caffeine may temporarily increase blood pressure. However, one should consult doctor as caffeine can cause other problems.
- Intake of sodium-rich foods helps to improve blood pressure levels. However, excess sodium can lead to heart problems. Therefore, it is vital to consult your physician before increasing salt intake.
- Drinking enough water increases the volume of blood and prevents dehydration. Both are very important to treat hypotension. Eight to ten glasses of water a day is the recommended intake. You can also opt for fruit and vegetable juices to avoid dehydration.
- Foods that have a high content of protein, vitamin B complex, and Vitamin C should be included in the diet. Lean meats, dairy, eggs, and citrus fruits are good options.
Suggestions for Low Blood Pressure
Hypotension can be treated and managed easily, which is why its important that you do not neglect the warning signs. Instead seek prompt medical attention. In addition, here are some tips to cope with hypotension and alleviate the symptoms.
- Avoid standing still or in one place for an extended period
- Avoid sudden changing of positions
- Try and avoid hot and dry environments as far as possible
- Keep yourself well hydrated at all times
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Compression stockings (available commercially) help raise blood pressure in the legs; consult your doctor regarding their use
If your blood pressure falls too low, call a doctor immediately. While waiting for medical help, you need to sit down or lie down and lift your legs above heart level. This helps to bring the blood flow back to the heart and brain, and it could save you from losing consciousness.
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