What is low blood pressure? Low BP causes diagnosis & treatment

Blood Pressure or BP is the pressure exerted by your blood to the inner walls of the arteries during the two phases of a heartbeat. The heart beat is divided into two parts, the active phase and the resting phase, and the pressure caused by your blood in these two different phases are considered as the blood pressure. This is the reason why any Blood Pressure measurement comes with two separate numbers, the first one of the pressure stands for the systolic pressure while the second one depicts the diastolic pressure.

The systolic pressure gives the amount of blood pressure in your arteries when your heart pumps blood and naturally it is higher in number. On the other hand, the diastolic pressure stands for the blood pressure in your arteries when your heart is at rest between two cycles. Naturally, the diastolic pressure is lesser.

According to the currently accepted range, normal blood pressure should be around 120/80 mm Hg.

What is low blood pressure?

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When your blood pressure reading is lower than 60 mm Hg diastolic or 90 mm Hg systolic it is usually considered as low blood pressure. To be diagnosed with low blood pressure you need to have only one of the systolic or diastolic pressures in the lower range. So, even if you have a perfect systolic pressure but your diastolic pressure is around 50 mm Hg, you will be considered with low blood pressure.

Diagnosis of low blood pressure

However, this is important to keep in mind that blood pressure can always vary from person to person and also from time to time. If a person is having either of the blood pressures below the lower permissible range for over a long period of time and it is creating considerable symptoms then only the person will be diagnosed for having low blood pressure.

So, if your blood pressure is always in the lower range, that is, less than the ideal 120/80 mm Hg around reading but it is not causing any symptoms or is not fluctuating you might not be diagnosed with low blood pressure but you will need to be under regular checkup to ensure that your blood pressure is not dropping further under any circumstances.

Causes of low blood pressure

The exact causes of low blood pressure is not very clear but it may be associated with the following,

Pregnancy

During pregnancy women go through a lot of changes in their physical and hormonal levels and hence a low blood pressure during pregnancy is not very uncommon.

Hypothyroidism

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Under reactive thyroid gland might be a reason of chronic low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure.

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Hypoglycemia

Fluctuating blood sugar levels can also be a cause of low blood pressure. It is prominent in case of people with hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels.

Heart failure

Failure of the heart naturally leads to drop of blood pressure. As the heart stops pumping blood or misses a beat the blood pressure in the arteries drops down drastically

Arrhythmia of the heart

This is caused due to certain conditions of the heart muscles. Irregular heart rhythms can result into drop in blood pressure.

Heat exhaustion

Extreme exhaustion from heat which can be considered as heat stroke can cause a steep drop in the blood pressure.

Liver diseases

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Some disease of liver has also been pointed out as the reason for chronic low blood pressure.

Medications

Certain over the counter as well as some prescription medications can be a cause of low blood pressure. Medications for depression, Parkinson’s can be a reason of chronic low blood pressure.

Anemia

Anemia or lack of blood in the body can be another reason of low blood pressure over a long period of time.

Fasting

Fasting can also work as a cause of low blood pressure. If you have been fasting or not eating sufficiently it can be a reason for low blood pressure.

Genes

Genetics is often a common cause of low blood pressure. If both or either of your parents has low blood pressure, there is high chance that you will inherit it from them.

Aging

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Usually the blood pressure rises with increase in age as the arteries start losing their flexibility but a drop in blood pressure due to certain movement or after eating is more common amongst the elderly.

Certain diseases like multiple system atrophy, autonomic neuropathy, cardiovascular disorders and even alcoholism can be a cause of low blood pressure.

If you have any of the above problems that do not necessarily mean that you will have low blood pressure but they certainly increase your risk.

There can also be some physical reasons for sudden drop in blood pressure. These reasons include,

  • Severe bleeding or loss of blood
  • Very low body temperature
  • Very high body temperature
  • Severe blood infection known as sepsis
  • Extreme dehydration
  • Reaction to medication

Treatment of low blood pressure

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For most of the people with chronic low blood pressure a change in lifestyle and diet can make all the difference.  However, the changes to be implemented should be directed by a doctor according to the cause and symptoms evident in your case. Some of the changes that can be helpful to treat low BP include,

Diet changes for treating low blood pressure

High salt diet

Consumption of a diet that has higher salt concentration is an easy way to treat the low blood pressure. However, before you actually start increasing salt intake through your diet it is important to confirm it from your doctor.

Consumption of more fluids

Consumption of more fluids can be another effective way to raise the chronic low blood pressure. Drinking more of water, juices and any other type of non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day at frequent intervals can be really helpful to treat low blood pressure.

Exercising for treating low blood pressure

If you have chronic low blood pressure, taking up regular exercises can be the most healthy way to treat it. Exercising ensures proper blood flow in the body and it can be the most health friendly and side effect free way to treat chronic low BP.

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If you have started to experience low blood pressure after starting sudden medications, get the prescription checked by your doctor immediately. In case the low blood pressure is caused due to certain heart or health conditions it will need medical observation and treatment to bring your blood pressure to the normal range. People suffering from sudden low blood pressure while waking up from the resting position should undertake precautions about their movement. Eating small meals at a time can be helpful for people suffering from blood pressure drop after a full meal.

In case none of the above measures seem to be effective, it is important to consult your doctor immediately who might prescribe you medicines depending on your condition and symptoms.

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