Low blood pressure, which is medically referred to as hypotension, is said to occur when the pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the blood vessels is very low. This HealthHearty article lists out the dangers associated with low blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force exerted by the circulating blood on the arterial walls. Under normal circumstances, the blood pressure reading is 120/80, with 120 and 80 being the measure of systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure, respectively. The systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure exerted on the arterial walls during the contraction of the heart, while diastolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood on the arterial walls when the heart relaxes after a contraction. A systolic pressure equal to or higher than 140 mmHg, is usually considered as high blood pressure or hypertension. A reading lower than 90/60 mmHg is considered to be low blood pressure. It must be noted that some individuals might have low blood pressure all the time, but it might not be associated with untoward symptoms. Treatment might not be required in such cases. However, medical assistance must be sought if one’s blood pressure is abnormally low, and is also causing symptoms.
Though a lot of attention has been paid to the risks associated with high blood pressure, hypotension can be equally dangerous. Consistently low blood pressure for a prolonged duration can deprive the vital organs such as the heart and the brain of oxygen, thereby causing extensive damage. Therefore, it is very important to monitor the level of blood pressure, especially if one has been experiencing symptoms associated with hypotension.
Effects of Hypotension on the Body
One of the main dangers of low blood pressure is reduced flow of blood through the arteries and veins. This can seriously impair normal blood circulation to other parts of the body such as the brain, kidney, and liver. In the event of insufficient supply of blood and oxygen, the organs cannot work properly. For example, if the kidneys do not get sufficient amount of blood and oxygen, they cannot completely eliminate the waste material such as urea and creatinine from the body, which in turn can cause a consequent rise in their levels. If blood pressure is extremely low, and even the supply of blood to the coronary arteries is limited, one could develop chest pain, and even experience a heart attack.
A person with significantly low blood pressure is likely to experience the following symptoms:
- Frequent fainting spells
- Blurred vision
- Cold and clammy skin
- Rapid breathing
Shock is the most serious condition associated with prolonged hypotension, where vital organs such as the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, or the brain are unable to perform their functions due to oxygen and nutrient deprivation caused by the poor circulation of blood.
Hypotension could be caused due to:
- Sudden or excessive loss of blood
- Extreme dehydration
- Congestive heart failure
- Myocardial infarction (which reduces cardiac output)
- Prolonged use of diuretics
- Prolonged use of antihypertensive drugs such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, or ACE inhibitors
- High levels of acid in the blood
- Low levels of oxygen in the blood
The treatment would vary, depending on the underlying cause. Proper monitoring of the signs and symptoms of low blood pressure could play an important role in warding off the dangers associated with this condition. It is also important to avoid overuse of antihypertensive drugs, as it is one of the most common reasons behind abnormally low blood pressure.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.