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Low Blood Pressure (hypotension) symptoms and causes

Have you experienced bouts of dizziness, fainting or nausea? These could be signs of low blood pressure.

In some people, low blood pressure can occur naturally and with no symptoms. In others, however, low blood pressure symptoms could be pointing towards a more serious problem. With that said, it makes sense to know what kind of signs your body could be giving you.

Some of the most common symptoms of low blood pressure/hypotension are:

  • Feelings of dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Feeling unsteady on your feet
  • Fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • Heart palpitations (heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable)
  • Confusion
  • Feeling sick
  • General bodily weakness

If you think you’re experiencing any of the effects of low blood pressure and are concerned about your health, you should see your GP. Likewise, if you are concerned about high blood pressure symptoms, make sure to seek medical guidance.

Benenden members have access to a GP 24/7 advice at the end of the telephone, giving round the clock reassurance knowing they can speak to a qualified GP day or night.

What is Low Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries – low blood pressure (also known as hypotension) can restrict the blood flowing to your vital organs. This is what causes some of the most common symptoms of low blood pressure: dizziness, unsteadiness and fainting. Understanding how low blood pressure is measured, as well as what is considered an unhealthy reading, can be vitally important.

Low blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg), and recorded as one measurement ‘over’ another. The first of these is systolic blood pressure (when your heart beats and squeezes blood into your arteries), and the second is diastolic blood pressure (when your heart rests between beats). If just one of these numbers is lower than recommended, it could point to low blood pressure.

The ideal blood pressure reading for adults is between 90/60 and 120/80mmHg. The low blood pressure range comes in below the 90/60mmHg mark, while a high blood pressure reading is anything above 120/80mmHg.

If you’re worried about your blood pressure reading, it may benefit you to:

  • Avoid caffeine at night, and lower your alcohol intake
  • Eat small, frequent meals rather than fewer, larger ones
  • Stand up gradually
  • Avoid standing for long periods of time
  • Wear support stockings

If you’re over the age of 50, getting your blood pressure checked regularly is important and should be part of your annual health check.

There may also be low blood pressure treatment available from your GP. If you’re worried about your health, you should make an appointment.

What Causes Low Blood Pressure?

When it comes to causes of low blood pressure, there are many variables. Not all of these may be related to your health. Your blood pressure could be measured low according to:

  • The time of day (blood pressure normally lowers overnight, reaching its highest rate around mid-afternoon)
  • How relaxed you are (if you’re stressed, your blood pressure will be higher)
  • How much exercise you do (if you exercise regularly, your resting blood pressure will be low)
  • The temperature (the warmer the day, the lower your blood pressure may be)
  • How full you are (if you’ve recently eaten, blood is diverted to your gut for digestion, meaning the blood pressure in the rest of your body falls)

Other low blood pressure causes may include your age, genes, level of dehydration and medication. Here are some examples of medications that could cause low blood pressure

  • Beta-blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Alpha-blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Some antidepressants

Another of the most common causes of low blood pressure is an underlying health problem. This could include anaemia, a heart condition, neurological disorder, hormone problem or miscommunication between the heart and the brain.

In serious cases, serious injury and shock have been cited as reasons for low blood pressure. These may include septic shock and toxic shock syndrome, anaphylactic shock and cardiogenic shock.

It’s always worth making an appointment with your GP if you’re concerned about your health.