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Health and Fitness News

Your Blood Pressure, Dropped

Can you have blood pressure that’s too low?

With high blood pressure, you place extra pressure on your circulatory system and increase your risk for damage to the arteries, kidneys, heart, eyes, and brain. Therefore, a diagnosis of high or borderline high blood pressure should be taken as a serious wake-up call that leads to lifestyle changes and prescription medication to bring your blood pressure down to a normal range.

While you may often hear of the dangers of high blood pressure (hypertension), there are also risks that come with blood pressure that’s too low (hypotension). Like other aspects of your health, when it comes to blood pressure there is a happy medium that’s considered a safe zone.

Keep reading to learn more about low blood pressure, its dangers, and how it’s treated.

Know the Numbers

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The top number is your systolic pressure, or the force on the arteries when they’re filled with blood after a heartbeat. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure, or the amount of force on the arteries between heartbeats. Both numbers are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

A healthy blood pressure reading is 120/80 mm Hg or lower—as long as it doesn’t go too low. Anything above these numbers is considered elevated. Systolic blood pressure over 120 is known as prehypertension. Over 140 indicates stage one hypertension and over 160 results in a stage two diagnosis. Low blood pressure is diagnosed when you have a pressure of 90/60 mm Hg or lower.

Understand the Causes

Low blood pressure is associated with a number of medical conditions. Most common conditions causing abnormally low blood pressure include diabetes, thyroid conditions, pregnancy, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, liver disease, dehydration, prolonged bleeding, or heat exhaustion. Certain medications can also cause low blood pressure.

Some people experience postural hypotension, which is a drop in blood pressure when they stand up quickly. This can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. Medical emergency situations can also cause an extreme drop in blood pressure and must be treated immediately.

See the Symptoms

An underlying medical condition may be to blame if you have any of the following symptoms of low blood pressure: dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, nausea, fatigue, blurred vision, dehydration, depression, or trouble concentrating.

When blood pressure falls to extreme levels, your body may go into shock. This life-threatening situation may be accompanied by cold, clammy skin; shallow but rapid breathing; confusion; or a rapid but weak pulse.

Diagnose and Treat

Low blood pressure isn’t always a problem that requires treatment. If it doesn’t cause negative symptoms, low blood pressure can be managed without any effort. Other times, low blood pressure means adequate amounts of blood aren’t reaching the brain, heart, and other organs. When this happens, symptoms like the ones listed above may occur and therefore requires medical intervention.
For unknown causes of low blood pressure, your doctor may order a variety of different tests (blood tests, an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram, a stress test, or a tilt table test) to determine its cause.

Treatment for low blood pressure depends on its cause. Sometimes, all it takes is simple lifestyle or diet changes. Eating more salt, wearing compression stockings, and drinking more water can raise blood pressure. Some people find relief from eating a healthy diet; eating smaller, more frequent meals; drinking caffeine; sitting without crossing the legs; or moving slowly from a lying or sitting position to standing. In some cases, medication may be required.