Low Blood Pressure: what is it?
Low blood pressure could include feelings of nausea, dizziness or nothing at all.
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.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force with which your blood pushes on the sides of your arteries as it's pumped around your body. This is measured as systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.
Systolic pressure refers to the pressure that your heart pushes blood out. Diastolic pressure refers to the pressure used when your heart rests between beats.
What is low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, can decrease the blood flowing to your vital organs. Understanding how low blood pressure is measured, as well as what is considered an unhealthy reading, can be vitally important. The low blood pressure range comes in below the 90/60mmHg mark - find out more about blood pressure readings here.
Low blood pressure symptoms
If your blood pressure is naturally low, it is not usually something to worry about. However, if you're suffering from any of the below symptoms, it could be a cause for concern:
Feelings of nausea, dizziness or general weakness - standing or sitting up quickly could cause unsteadiness.
Fainting - if you experience a sudden, brief spell of unconsciousness.
Blurred vision - the inability to see clearly, sight will often feel as though it is out of focus.
Heart palpitations - when your heart beats and it is suddenly more noticeable.
Confusion - a person's inability to think or speak quickly could be related to low blood pressure.
Suffering from any of these symptoms after sudden movements, such as standing up or getting out of bed quickly is known as postural or orthostatic hypotension. If these symptoms are prominent after eating, it is known as postprandial hypotension.
In acute cases, serious injury and shock have been cited as reasons for low blood pressure. These may include septic shock, toxic shock syndrome, anaphylactic shock and cardiogenic shock.
Natural causes of low blood pressure
It is important to pinpoint what is causing low blood pressure so that steps can be taken to monitor your diet or medication to ensure blood pressure returns to more normal levels:
Dehydration - when you're losing more fluids than you take on can cause, weakness, dizziness and in some cases sickness & fevers.
Lack of nutrients - when you've a lack of certain vitamins, your body can fail to produce enough red blood cells which could lead to anaemia.
Blood loss - due to major injury, excessive bleeding or internal bleeding means there is less blood in your body, lowering blood pressure.
Time of day - blood pressure changes overnight so when you wake in the morning it will naturally be lower.
Exercise - exercise temporarily increases your blood pressure, however, over time your blood pressure when resting will become lower and your body will begin to run more efficiently.
Pregnancy - a woman's circulatory system expands rapidly during pregnancy meaning blood pressure will naturally drop, and will be monitored during the pregnancy. After childbirth, blood pressure should return to previous levels.
Medicinal causes of low blood pressure
Other causes may include your age, genes and medication and over the counter and prescribed medication. Here are some examples of medications that could cause low blood pressure:
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
Angiotensin receptor blockers.
Impacts of low blood pressure?
As mentioned, some people have a naturally lower blood pressure and this is normal and often nothing to worry about. However, if you're suffering from any symptoms or abnormally low blood pressure which impacts your day to day life it is important to seek advice. If left untreated, it can lead to anaemia. This is when not enough red blood cells are produced meaning a lack of oxygen is available to vital organs such as the heart and brain, increasing the chances of heart attacks or strokes. Find out more about anaemia.
Very low blood pressure can also impact your kidneys, heart and sometimes cause injury as you might be more at risk of falling or fainting.
Treatment for low blood pressure
If you've been diagnosed as having low blood pressure depending on your age, health and type of low blood pressure you can help yourself in several ways. However, it is important to only make lifestyle changes if you've been instructed to do so by a trained health professional.
Drink more water - this reduces the risk of becoming dehydrated and also increases the circulating volume in your body.
Add more salt to your diet - sodium can raise blood pressure which in some cases may not be a bad thing.
Take care when standing or sitting up - taking your time helps circulation in your body ensuring that symptoms such as feeling dizzy or lightheaded are reduced.
Compression stockings - these are worn as knee or thigh-length stockings and can reduce blood pooling, ensuring more blood stays in your upper body.
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 Health members have access to our 24/7 GP Helpline, giving you round the clock reassurance knowing you're able to speak to a qualified GP day or night.
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Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly on March 2023. Next review date: March 2024.