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Hypotension: What Is Low Blood Pressure?

Hypotension: What Is Low Blood Pressure?
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Hypotension

low blood pressure


Hypotension is the official medical term for low blood pressure. Low blood pressure is considered any measurement under 90 over 60. The top number in a blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure, the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The normal range for this number is anywhere between 90 to 120. The bottom number in a blood pressure reading is the diastolic pressure, the pressure in your blood vessels when the heart rests in between beats. The normal range for this number is anywhere between 60 and 80. While hypotension is not as common as its counterpart, hypertension (high blood pressure), it can be even more serious and dangerous. Minorly low blood pressure is typically not concerning, but moderately to severely low blood pressure can result in coma or even death.

What Causes Hypotension?

The following underlying conditions and factors can lead to hypotension:

  • Trauma
  • Dehydration
  •  Dysautonomia
    • POTS
    • Orthostatic Intolerance
    • Neurocardiogenic Syncope
  • Severe Infection/Sepsis
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Pregnancy
  • Cardiovascular Disease
    • Heart Valve Issues
    • Heart Failure
    • Heart Attack
  • Lack of Nutrients
    • B12 Deficiency
  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nervous System Damage
  • Parathyroid Disease
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Certain Medications
    • Beta Blockers (Metoprolol, Pindolol, etc.)

hypotension

Types of Hypotension

Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension refers to a significant and sudden drop in blood pressure that occurs upon standing. It is most often seen in patients with dysautonomia.

Postprandial Hypotension

Postprandial hypotension refers to a significant drop in blood pressure that occurs immediately after eating. It is most often seen in elderly patients.

Neurally Mediated Hypotension

Neurally mediated hypotension refers to a miscommunication between the brain and the heart that leads to random, sudden drops in blood pressure.

Symptoms of Hypotension

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Tachycardia
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness

low blood pressure symptoms

Diagnosing Hypotension

A primary care physician can usually diagnose hypotension but may need to refer you to a specialist to find the underlying cause of the low blood pressure. Doing a physical exam and assessing medical history will help to diagnose hypotension. Your blood pressure should be measured at every doctor’s visit and if it is consistently low, you may have hypotension. Your doctor will likely order blood tests to figure out the underlying cause of the hypotension. They may also order a tilt table test, which will assess how your blood pressure responds to being in an upright position. They will likely recommend that you use a sphygmomanometer to keep track of your blood pressure measurements at home.

Treating Hypotension

To treat hypotension will depend on the underlying cause. Managing the underlying condition can typically help resolve the low blood pressure. Lifestyle changes can also help manage low blood pressure, such as consuming more salt and drinking more fluids with electrolytes. Elevating the head of the bed can also help train the body to respond better to being upright. In some cases, medications like Midodrine can be prescribed to increase blood pressure.

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