Low Blood Pressure Basics

Blood Pressure, Healthy Heart, Healthy Living
on August 13, 2011

Low blood pressure is an individual diagnosis. For some, blood pressure is naturally low; for others, it signifies a health concern. Generally, 90 mm Hg over 60 mm Hg is considered to be a low blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Educate yourself fully to the causes and symptoms of low blood pressure so you can be properly treated if necessary.

The heart does not rest. Your heart tirelessly pumps blood through your arteries every moment of every day. This arterial pressure is measured during the resting and acting phases of each heartbeat to determine your blood pressure. Once you have determined your typical, healthy blood pressure, you can gauge what is low for you. A sudden drop in blood pressure can cause dangerous dizziness and fainting, as the brain loses its supply of oxygen. Drops that are unusually large are often due to uncontrollable bleeding, infection and serious allergic response. These sudden and severe drops in blood pressure are serious and life threatening. Overall, low blood pressure is not an issue if it’s normal for you or you’re athletic. Some disorders cause low blood pressure and are serious, life-threatening disorders.

Hypotension can be due to a medical condition. These conditions include:

  • Pregnancy causes an expansion of the circulatory system. Often, this causes blood pressure to drop. Once delivery is complete, blood pressure usually resumes to the normal level.
  • Endocrine issues are frequently the trigger to low blood pressure. Either hypo or hyperthyroidism can be the culprit. Addison’s disease, a disease of the adrenal gland; hypoglycemia and even diabetes can cause low blood pressure.
  • Dehydration causes water loss. Serious dehydration causes hypovolemic shock — a sudden drop in blood pressure that can cause death in minutes.
  • Heart problems like heart valve disorders, bradycardia, heart failure and heart attack can cause dangerous low blood pressure.
  • Blood loss from internal or external injury that is extreme causes a drop in blood pressure.
  • Anaphylaxis or a severe allergic reaction to foods, medication, venom or latex can cause breathing problems, hives, itching, a swollen airway and a drop in blood pressure.
  • Poor diet results in several vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin B12 and folate drops initiate anemia where the body doesn’t create sufficient red blood cells resulting in low blood pressure.
  • Septicemia occurs when infection reaches the circulatory system and bloodstream, causing hypotension.

Medications can cause hypotension. These include: water pills, beta or alpha blockers, Parkinson’s disease medication, Tricyclic antidepressants and Viagra.

Hypotension can be missed — until it becomes serious. For some people, low blood pressure is normal but a sudden change or drop, along with typical hypotension symptoms, is often an indicator of something more serious. Since low blood pressure is normally low for some, it’s more the rapidity than the depth of the drop that is of concern. Note the usual symptoms noted here and speak with your doctor if you feel you may be hypotensive.

  • Dizziness;
  • Syncope (fainting);
  • Nausea;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Rapid and shallow breathing;
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin tone;
  • Fatigue;
  • Lack of concentration;
  • Extreme thirst and
  • Depression.

See the doctor if there’s any uncertainty in your blood pressure. It’s very important to detect low blood pressure that is uncharacteristic for you. Regular checkups will set up a baseline of what is normal in your individual case. Your doctor is in the best position to monitor and assist should low blood pressure be detected in order to determine if more serious problems are causing the hypotensive response.