Low Blood Pressure
Feel dizzy sometimes? Low blood pressure isn’t common, but should be discussed with your doctor. Here’s Three Types of Low Blood Pressure and What You Can Do.
Most people, about 99 percent of my patients, have blood pressure that is too high for good health. High blood pressure, or hypertension, puts them at risk for heart problems, stroke, etc. But about one out of every hundred of my patients has low blood pressure (hypotension) that needs to be increased.
Low blood pressure means that some parts of your body—including your brain—may not be getting enough blood to function normally. There isn’t enough pressure to ensure the blood efficiently reaches everywhere it needs to be so that it can deliver the oxygen and nutrients your cells need.
A healthy blood pressure reading is between 90 over 60 and 120 over 80. Blood pressure lower than 90 over 60 is considered too low. When this happens it’s important to find out the reason why your blood pressure is low so it can be addressed.
Signs and symptoms of low blood pressure
Blood pressure is easily measured and monitored with a blood pressure cuff. You can purchase them at drug stores for convenient use at home. My patients with low blood pressure rarely know that they have it. There are some signs to look out for, including:
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy, especially when standing up quickly
- Nausea or vomiting
- Inability to concentrate
- Blurry or fading vision
- Unusual thirst
- Fainting and injuries from falling
Extreme low blood pressure can result in shock which includes confusion, clammy skin, fast and shallow breathing, and a fast, weak pulse.
Types of low blood pressure
There are three main types of hypotension: orthostatic, post-prandial, and neurally-mediated.
Orthostatic (or postural) hypotension is the light-headedness or dizziness felt when standing up quickly from sitting or lying down. The symptoms usually only last a few seconds or minutes.
Postprandial hypotension often occurs in older people and those with Parkinson’s disease. In this case, the low blood pressure is felt an hour or two after eating.
Neurally-mediated hypotension (NMH) is most common in young adults and children. It usually happens after standing for a long period of time. Many children outgrow this type of low blood pressure.
Causes of low blood pressure
There are many causes of low blood pressure, including:
- Heart problems (slow heart rate, heart attack, heart failure, or problems with heart valves)/li>
- Pregnancy (often during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy)/li>
- Decreased blood volume (from dehydration, trauma, or bleeding)/li>
- Certain medications (used to lower blood pressure, heart medications, Parkinson’s medications, some antidepressants, alcohol, or narcotics)/li>
- Hormonal issues (thyroid, Addison’s disease, diabetes, or low blood sugar)/li>
- Severe blood infections (sepsis) or allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)/li>
- Prolonged bed rest
- Nutrient deficiencies (not enough vitamin B12 or folic acid) or toxicities (too much vitamin B3, magnesium, or choline)/li>
What to do when experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure
We want a healthy blood pressure to ensure that all parts of our bodies get enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly. See your doctor or cardiologist for recommendations if you experience symptoms of low blood pressure. Bring with you a record of when you experience symptoms and what activities you were doing when it happened.
Some of the treatments you may discuss are changing medications if they are causing low blood pressure, drinking more fluids if you’re dehydrated, and maybe even increasing the salt in your diet.
While it’s far more common to have high blood pressure and to have to decrease your salt intake, it’s the opposite for those few people who have low blood pressure. The sodium in salt helps our bodies maintain the right amount of fluid, so it is an essential mineral that most people simply get too much of. We lose sodium every day in our urine, feces, breath, and sweat so a small amount needs to be replaced every day. The recommendation is for at least 1,500 mg of sodium per day, but no more than 2,300 mg per day.
Low blood pressure is not common, but if you have it, it’s important to speak with your doctor to figure out why it’s happening and what you can do about it. There are three main types of low blood pressure, and each one needs to be treated differently.
To pursue your dreams you must have health, that includes healthy blood pressure.
If you want to discuss your heart health with a preventive cardiologist specializing in women’s health, contact us or make an appointment by calling 352-717-0220.
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