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Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension): Types, causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment

Team AckoSept 7, 2022

You have probably come across a chronic health condition called High Blood Pressure (High BP), where the blood pressure consistently measures above normal. However, there’s another less common yet related health issue called Low Blood Pressure/Low BP. It comes with its own set of causes and complications. This article will help you understand Low Blood Pressure and its types, causes, symptoms, prevention and treatments.

Low Blood Pressure

What Is Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)?

Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension is generally diagnosed when your blood pressure levels read 90/60 mmHg or less. Blood pressure is typically caused by force exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries and is usually measured using a pressure metre and stethoscope.

Difference between Hypotension vs Hypertension

Hypotension and Hypertension are both conditions that relate to blood pressure.

  • Hypertension: A condition wherein the blood pressure on the artery walls is higher than normal.

  • Hypotension: A condition wherein the blood pressure on the artery walls is lower than normal.

Types of Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)

The following are the general Low Blood Pressure types.

  • Orthostatic: This type of Low Blood Pressure is caused when you suddenly transition from sitting or lying down to standing. The abrupt position change may cause lightheadedness or dizziness. This type of low bp tends to develop in people with autonomic nervous system-related conditions like Parkinson's disease or diabetes.

  • Postprandial: This condition is characterised by a decrease in blood pressure after eating a meal. Postprandial is more common in older people and individuals suffering from autonomic disorders.

  • Neurally mediated: This type of reduced blood pressure is triggered by an unusual reflex interaction between the brain and the heart. This condition is more common in children and can be triggered by sudden shock or fear.

  • Severe: This serious form of decreased blood pressure is generally caused by infection or injury-induced shock. This is because, during a shock, blood is not circulated efficiently throughout the body. If this condition is left untreated, it can become fatal.

Signs and symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

Common Low Blood Pressure symptoms and signs include the following.

  • Rapid breathing

  • Blurred vision

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting 

  • Dehydration

  • Nausea

  • Depression

  • Lack of focus

  • Fatigue

  • Pale skin

What causes Low Blood Pressure?

Here are some of the common causes for the development of Low Blood Pressure.

  • Septic shock: If bacteria travel from the site of infection to blood vessels and affect them, it is called septic shock. This can cause a low level of blood pressure and can be life-threatening.

  • Endocrine issues: Suffering from endocrine issues can lead to the development of low blood pressure. Other probable causes include an underactive thyroid, low blood sugar, adrenal insufficiency and parathyroid disease.

  • Bradycardia and other cardiac issues: If you suffer from certain heart conditions, it is likely that your heart may not be able to pump blood effectively. This can cause a significant reduction in blood pressure.

  • Certain medications: Drugs taken to treat common medical conditions like hypertension medication, diuretics, beta-blockers, medicines for Parkinson's disease, etc., can induce low levels of blood pressure.

  • Anaphylactic shock: It is an unusual reaction caused by a bee sting or penicillin. This condition can make your blood pressure drop and may even result in death.

  • Pregnancy: During the initial 24 weeks of pregnancy, it is likely that women may experience reduced blood pressure levels.

  • Nutritional deficiencies: If your body is deficient in essential nutrients like folic acid or vitamin B12, it can lead to the development of anaemia. Anaemia can cause your blood pressure to plummet.

  • Injury: If you suffer from an injury that involves significant blood loss, it is likely that your blood pressure will drop. This is because blood volume affects blood pressure.

How to diagnose Low Blood Pressure

Here are the usual ways in which Low Blood Pressure is diagnosed.

  • Lab testing: Urine and blood lab tests are conducted to determine if you suffer conditions that are risk factors for developing a low blood pressure level. These conditions include the following.

  1. Hormone problems

  2. Vitamin deficiencies

  3. Diabetes

  4. Anaemia

  5. Thyroid issues

  • Imaging: If your doctor suspects that a heart or lung problem is the cause of your Hypotension, they may suggest the following imaging tests. 

  1. Computed tomography (CT) scans

  2. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  3. X-rays

  4. Echocardiogram (ECG)

  • Diagnostic testing: These types of tests check if there are any heart or lung-related issues that are causing your blood pressure to lower.

  1. Exercise stress testing

  2. Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG).

  3. Tilt table test

Treatments for Low Blood Pressure

Based on the cause, the following Low Blood Pressure treatments are administered.

  • Fluid infusion: This type of treatment is commonly carried out if you have lost a lot of blood due to an injury. The blood transfusion performed to compensate for the lost blood can also help to stabilise the blood pressure in your body.

  • Medication: There are medicines available that can constrict blood vessels and cause blood pressure to increase. There are also medications for the kidney that can help to bring blood pressure levels back to normal.

Low Blood Pressure treatment at home

The following remedies may help you recover from Low Blood Pressure.

  • The consumption of salt has positive effects on the body’s blood pressure. So, intake adequate quantities of it through your diet.

  • Eating big meals is known to decrease blood pressure. Instead, eat small meals, more regularly.

  • Coffee drinking has shown to decrease blood pressure rapidly. However, abstain from drinking too much of it. 

  • Dehydration has a correlation with Low Blood Pressure. So, make sure you are hydrated at all times.

  • Stress can cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. So, avoid stressful situations.

Prevention of Low Blood Pressure

You can follow the below-listed tips to prevent developing Low Blood Pressure.

  • Get up slowly when standing up from a sitting or lying down position

  • Increase your intake of fluids

  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods

  • Consume alcohol moderately or quit it completely

  • Abstain from drinking caffeinated drinks towards the end of a day

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the commonly asked questions regarding Low Blood Pressure.

Who is more susceptible to developing Low Blood Pressure?

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Although reduced blood pressure can develop at any age, older adults are more susceptible to developing this condition.

What is a dangerously low blood pressure level?

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A reading of 90/60 mmHg and lower is considered a dangerous blood pressure level and requires medical attention.

What are the reasons for Low Blood Pressure?

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The following are the typical causes of low blood pressure development.

  • Extreme temperatures

  • Lung and heart problems

  • Certain medications

  • Recreational drugs or alcohol

  • Low blood volume

What are the signs of Low Blood Pressure?

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Common signs of Low Blood Pressure include the following.

  • Weakness

  • Vomiting

  • Fainting

  • Dizziness

  • Confusion

  • Blurry vision

References:

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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