Hypertension or high blood pressure has been associated with poor cardiovascular health, the risk of heart attacks and other related health conditions. Abnormally low blood pressure however also poses its own adverse effects and so it is important to know the cause of low blood pressure. In this article, we will look at the common causes of low blood pressure and what we can do about it.
What is Low Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure of an individual’s arteries during the active and resting stage for each heartbeat cycle and is composed of the systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the top number of a blood pressure reading when the hurt pumps blood to the arteries while the diastolic pressure is the blood pressure reading when the heart is at the resting phase of the heartbeat cycle.
Low blood pressure is a reading below 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for the top number (systolic) or 60 (mm Hg) for the diastolic (bottom number). Ideally, regular blood pressure should be at around 120/80 mm Hg so if the blood pressure of individual drops below 90/60 mm Hg then he/she is currently experiencing low blood pressure or hypotension. A sudden drop due to major medical conditions such as severe bleeding or allergic reactions and may be considered a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
People with low blood pressure or hypotension may have various causes or reasons for the said medical condition. Listed below are some of the possible causes low blood pressure:
Being pregnant can cause low blood pressure
Due to the circulatory system expanding rapidly during pregnancy, blood pressure can significantly drop. However, this is considered normal as the blood pressure usually reverts to normal after giving birth.
Having cardiovascular problems may result in hypotension
A lot of major heart problems may result in hypotension such as low heart rates (bradycardia), problems with the heart valve, heart attack and failure.
Some endocrine problems may cause low blood pressure
Various medical conditions classified as endocrine problems may result in hypotension such as parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and diabetes.
Dehydration can result in low blood pressure
The combination of the various symptoms of dehydration such as weakness, dizziness, fatigue, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and strenuous exercise can contribute to low blood pressure
Blood Loss can also result in hypotension
Injuries, be it internal or external, may result in significant blood loss and a reduction of available blood circulating within the body. As such, may consequently lead to low blood pressure.
Septicemia or severe infection may cause blood pressure
When an infection enters the body and the bloodstream, it may result in septic shock which is a dangerous and steep drop in the blood pressure of an individual.
Anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions can cause hypotension
Allergic reactions can be triggered by a number of various factors that may be considered life-threatening. Some of these include foods, medications and insect venoms. Aside from breathing problems and itching, extreme allergic reactions may lead to an extreme drop in an individual’s blood pressure.
Anemia can cause low blood pressure
Anemia or lack of red blood cells can cause low blood pressure. It is generally caused by a lack of nutrients in the diet and the foods consumed such as insufficient intake of Vitamin B-12 and folate.
Certain medications can lead to hypotension
Some medications can cause low blood pressure such as water pills (diuretics), Alpha blockers, Beta blockers, drugs for Parkinson’s disease, antidepressants (tricyclic antidepressants) and drugs for erectile dysfunction. These drugs are initiate certain biological reactions in patients which may affect blood pressure and in this case. The aforementioned drugs may cause low blood pressure or hypotension.
Risk Factors of Low Blood Pressure
Anyone may develop low blood pressure but there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing hypotension. Some of these risk factors are:
- Age: Drops in blood pressure and hypotension, in general, affect those that over 65 years of age. Neurally mediated hypotension, or low blood pressure from standing for extended periods of time, usually affects young adults and children.
- Medications: As mentioned earlier, certain medications can cause low blood pressure. Alpha-blockers or medications for high blood pressure can cause a steep drop in blood pressure.
- Certain diseases: Individuals with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and other heart conditions have a higher chance of developing low blood pressure or hypotension.
Treatment Options for Low Bood Pressure
The good news is that there are ways to lessen and alleviate the symptoms of low blood pressure. Below are some of the suggested treatments for hypotension or low blood pressure:
- Using more salt: Doctors usually advise against the use of salts for people with high blood pressure. For individuals suffering from hypotension or low blood pressure however, a slight increase in salt intake may aid in addressing the said condition.
- Drinking more water: Staying hydrated can help improve blood circulation and volume and ultimately help against low blood pressure.
- Wearing of Compression stockings: Wearing compression clothing can help avoid the pooling of blood in the joints and may aid in stimulating the body’s blood circulation, thereby improving blood pressure levels.
- Taking certain medications: Currently, there are a number of medications available in the market that can help alleviate and address the symptoms of low blood pressure. Examples of these would be fludrocortisone which could be used to increase blood volume and midodrine which helps normalize the standing blood pressure of individuals suffering from hypotension.
Low blood pressure can have a number of causes and some possible risk factors but knowing how to treat hypotension and how to take care of oneself may be the best combination against the negative effects of low blood pressure.