High blood pressure is often in the spotlight, with articles and physicians warning of its dangers, which can include heart failure and strokes.
But what about the opposite extreme? Is it possible for your blood pressure to be too low?
Your internal medicine physicians in Raleigh at Raleigh Medical Group want you to know that most of the time, if you’re feeling fine, low blood pressure is no cause for alarm, although it should be monitored closely because it could be an indicator of an underlying medical condition.
However, there are a few occasions where low blood pressure calls for immediate medical attention.
We’ll explore low blood pressure, answer common questions and explain how our internal medicine physicians can help.
What Do Blood Pressure Measurement Numbers Mean?
First, a quick rundown on what the numbers on your blood pressure readings mean.
The top number is the systolic, which records how much pressure your blood pushes against your arteries with every heartbeat.
The bottom number is the diastolic number, which measures the same pressure when your heart is at rest.
A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic).
What Is Low Blood Pressure?
Low blood pressure is also called hypotension, and it occurs when the top number is lower than 90 and the bottom number is 60 or lower.
What Causes Low Blood Pressure?
There are several different causes, and in some cases, low blood pressure may be caused by mild dehydration or spending too much time in the sun.
Other potential causes of low blood pressure include:
● A low heart rate
● Heart disease or issues with the heart valves
● Thyroid diseases
● Blood sugar issues, and even diabetes
● Losing a lot of blood, particularly from internal bleeding
● Septicemia, which occurs when an infection enters the bloodstream
● Anaphylaxis (link to Mayo Clinic here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351468 ]
● Poor nutrition or lack of nutrients
● Certain medications
What Does Low Blood Pressure Feel Like?
Sometimes, those with low blood pressure may become so lightheaded they may faint. This, along with dizziness, are common symptoms. They are most noticeable when you go from lying or sitting to standing—particularly if you stand quickly.
If you have low blood pressure, you may also feel:
Have difficulty concentrating
Experience fading or blurry vision
Can Your Blood Pressure Be Too Low?
Yes, it is possible, but most of the time, as long as you’re feeling fine and don’t have any bothersome symptoms, your internal medicine specialist will monitor your condition and keep a close eye on your blood pressure.
However, if your blood pressure is extremely low and you exhibit the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible:
Skin that is cold, clammy and pale
Rapid and shallow breathing
Confusion (this is more commonly seen in older people)
Rapid and weak pulse
Fainting or dizziness upon standing
Who Is at Risk for Developing Low Blood Pressure?
Anyone can develop low blood pressure, but those over the age of 65 may experience drops in blood pressure after they eat or when they stand from a sitting or lying position. Certain medications can cause low blood pressure, as can certain diseases such as Parkinson’s or diabetes.
Are There Different Types of Low Blood Pressure?
Yes, there are: orthostatic hypotension, postprandial hypotension and neurally mediated hypotension.
Orthostatic –sometimes called postural—hypotension occurs when your blood pressure drops suddenly when you stand up after sitting or lying down.
Postprandial hypotension occurs around two hours after eating, and it is more commonly seen in older adults.
Neurally mediated hypotension is the result of a miscommunication between the brain and the heart that causes a drop in blood pressure after someone has been standing for a long period of time.
How Is Low Blood Pressure Treated?
We will work closely with you to tailor a plan to fit your individual needs. If your low blood pressure is mild and isn’t causing any problems, we’ll likely just monitor it at your regular checkups.
ADJUST YOUR SALT INTAKE
One caveat here: too much salt can cause high blood pressure, and it’s important that you maintain the proper balance. We recommend talking to our dietitian who will be happy to help you create a wonderful nutritional plan to fit your busy lifestyle.
DRINK MORE WATER
Dehydration can cause low blood pressure, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and avoid sports drinks which may be loaded with “hidden” sugars.
USE COMPRESSION STOCKINGS
Check with your doctor first. These can reduce the chances of blood pooling in your legs, which can be one of the results of low blood pressure.
In certain cases, medications may help, and if this is the case, we’ll find a suitable medication to fit your needs. Often, this is all that is needed to alleviate low blood pressure.
Your Raleigh Internal Medicine Doctors Near You: Always Ready to Serve You
There’s a reason we’ve been serving the community for more than 45 years. It’s our dedication to excellence coupled with compassion and the desire for you to have the healthiest life possible.
We’re happy to help you achieve your wellness goals, whether that means having a yearly physical, creating a nutrition and exercise plan, or managing chronic diseases like diabetes. We want you to have a healthier life, and we’re committed to helping you achieve your wellness goals.