Blood pressure is an important indicator of the level of functioning of the heart, brain and other body systems. This is why low blood pressure is such an important parameter when it comes to finding out if there is any problem in the physiological processes in the body.
Q. What is hypotension?
A: Normal blood pressure is a reading of around 120/80 mmHg on the sphygmomanometer. Hypotension is abnormally low blood pressure and the units may differ for every individual.
Q. How low is low blood pressure?
A: Hypotension for one person can be normal for the other and hence is an undefined value. However the reference range is:
Blood pressure reading that’s lower than 90/60 where 90 is the systolic (higher) and 60 is the diastolic (lower) value.
Q. What are the symptoms of hypotension?
A: Dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, fatigue, palpitations, chest pain are some of the early signs of low blood pressure. Changes in the state of the mind such as confusion, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating are some symptoms of hypotension. There could be a sudden feeling of clammy hands and feet. Shock is a serious medical emergency that can cause vital organ failure.
Q. When should I see a doctor?
A: Some people with ‘normally low’ blood pressure may not develop symptoms at all, hence cannot be termed as hypotensives. However, symptoms of hypotension like dizziness and lethargy should be definite indicators to visit a physician. Low blood pressure causes reduced blood supply to the vital body organs and hence lesser oxygen can cause organ damage. Certain lab tests can lead us to the proper cause and diagnosis of hypotension.
Q. What are the associated risk factors?
A: People with ideal body mass index, those with healthy food habits and non-smokers are at a greater risk of suffering from hypotension. (fact)
Q. What are the types of hypotension?
- Asymptomatic hypotension
- Orthostatic hypotension: Symptoms of giddiness upon standing due to postural hypotension is orthostatic hypotension
- Post prandial hypotension: Usually occurs in elderly individuals within few hours after meals
- Neurally Mediated Hypotension (NMH): Caused by low sodium diet and emotional stress
- Severe hypotension leading to shock
Q. What are the medical causes of hypotension?
- Anti-hypertensive drugs
- Antidepressants and diuretics
- Folic acid deficiency or anemia
- Dehydration due to diarrhea, vomiting, fever and heatstroke
- Blood loss which may be internal due to gastrointestinal pathology or external due to injury or burns
- Heart diseases consisting of weak muscles or abnormal heart rates like bradycardia and tachycardia both can cause hypotension.
- Hormonal problems such as adrenal insufficiency or thyroid disease where the thyroid gland is either inactive or overactive.
- Diabetes which can cause alterations in blood sugar levels.
Q. Are there any home remedies for hypotension?
- Sodium deficiency can be taken care of by increasing the salt intake.
- Small quantities of meals with low carbohydrates can cure postprandial hypotension.
- Dehydration due to low water intake can be treated by taking plenty of fluids, juices etc.
- Malnutrition can be corrected by nutritional supplements and proper dietary advice.
- Alcohol and narcotic drugs should be restricted and (or) stopped completely.
- Gradual movements during sitting or standing can deal with postural changes that may be a cause of hypotension.
- Prolonged standing should be avoided as it causes hypotension even in young healthy individuals.
- Support stockings are recommended if there is blood accumulation due to varicose veins.
Ideally, low blood pressure attacks can be avoided by taking proper and healthy meals at the right times. One should include a variety of foods, preferably raw vegetables and fruits, in one’s diet. The trigger factors should be carefully detected and avoided to prevent the symptoms of hypotension. Low BP caused by a medical condition should be corrected by treating the underlying disease under strict medical supervision.