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Hypotension/ Low Blood Pressure

Hypotension or low blood pressure occurs when a blood pressure is lower than 90/60. There are several causes of this condition, such as dehydration or other serious medical disorders.

Hypotension / Low Blood Pressure

Your arteries are measured during the active and resting phases. Hypotension or low blood pressure occurs when a blood pressure is lower than 90/60. People with hypotension may have dizziness and fainting. There are several causes of this condition, such as dehydration or other serious medical disorders. To treat hypotension, it is very important to seek the cause of the condition.

 

Symptoms

People with hypotension may experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of concentration

 

            This life-threatening condition may lead to a shock if it becomes extreme. Signs and symptoms of shock may include:

  • Weak
  • Rapid pulse
  • Confusion
  • Cold, moist and pale skin
  • Rapid breathing

 

When to see the doctor

             Seek emergency medical help immediately if you have signs or symptoms of shock. You are advised to see a doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of hypotension since it may relate to other serious medical problems. You may record your symptoms, especially when it happens and what you are doing at the time it occurs.

 

Causes

Blood pressure depends on several factors including:

  • breathing rhythm
  • stress level
  • body position
  • physical condition
  • taken medications
  • diet
  • time

 

There are several factors causing blood pressure to decrease including medical conditions, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Pregnancy
  • heart problems
  • Endocrine problems
  • Blood loss
  • Septicemia or severe infection
  • Anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction
  • Lack of nutrients

 

Apart from these medical conditions, hypotension might be a side effect of some medications, such as:

  • Diuretics or water pills
  • Alpha blockers
  • Beta blockers
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Some types of antidepressants
  • Medications for erectile dysfunction

 

            Hypotension can be caused by other factors. It is categorized into several types depending on its causes and other factors. The categories may include:

 

  • Orthostatic or postural hypotension

            This sudden drop in blood pressure occurs when you stand up after lying down or a sitting position. This may happen in people with

    • older adults
    • dehydration
    • prolonged bed rest
    • pregnancy
    • diabetes
    • heart problems
    • burn
    • excessive heat
    • large varicose veins
    • some neurological disorders

 

  • Postprandial hypotension

            This kind of hypotension usually occurs around a couple hours after eating. People with postprandial hypotension may experience dizziness, faintness and falls. This type of hypotension may occur especially in

    • older adults
    • people with high blood pressure
    • nervous system disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease

            To avoid this condition, you may eat small and low-carbohydrate meals. Drinking more water and avoiding alcohol are considered helpful in reducing the symptoms.

           

  • Neurally mediated hypotension

This kind of hypotension occurs after standing for a long period of time. Either adults or children can be affected by this condition. A miscommunication between the heart and the brain is considered as the cause of this condition.

 

  • Multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension

Damage to the nervous system causes a drop of blood pressure. This kind of hypotension is also known as Shy-Drager syndrome. The symptoms of this rare hypotension is very similar to Parkinson’s disease which causes damage to the autonomic nervous system. The system functions in controlling involuntary functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and digestion. People with this type of hypotension may also have high blood pressure while lying down.

 

Risk factors

Hypotension can happen to anyone. The risk of this condition may be increased with some factors including:

  • Age especially in adults older than 65
  • Use of medications, such as medications for high blood pressure
  • Some diseases including heart problems and endocrine problems such as diabetes

 

Complications

             Hypotension may lead to light accidents  to serious medical problems. People with hypotension may easily be involved with some accidents such as falling due to dizziness, weakness and fainting. Severe blood pressure may cause lack of oxygen that may lead to heart and brain damages.

 

Diagnosis

            The doctor may review your medical problems before conducting some physical exams and measuring blood pressure. Some tests may be required including:

  • Blood tests to examine the condition of the entire body and to seek for the cause of hypotension, such as high blood sugar, diabetes or anemia
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) to seek for heart problems that may cause low blood pressure
  • Tilt table test to evaluate the reaction of the body to changes in position

 

Treatment

             Treatment for hypotension depends on its cause, type and severity. People with mild symptoms may rarely require treatment. To raise blood pressure and to reduce signs and symptoms more severe hypotension may require some treatment to including:

  • Consuming more salt
  • Drinking more water
  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Medications

 

Preparing for an appointment

             Before your appointment,  you are advised to be aware of restrictions prior the appointment and you may prepare some information including:

    • your experienced symptoms
    • your key personal information
    • all medications you are taking
    • questions that you want to ask the doctor

 

            During the consulting, the doctor may ask some questions including the information such as:

    • the beginning of your symptoms
    • whether your symptoms are continuous or occasional
    • the severity of your symptoms
    • whether anything improve or worsen your symptoms
    • history of your family member involved with heart disease