Hypotension exists and it is something to be weary of.
A whole lot is read of hypertension but very little or nothing about hypotension. So in view of this, I shall be talking about hypotension otherwise called low blood pressure.
Hypotension is defined as a disease of abnormally low blood pressure. It is considered a disease in pathology whereby the blood pressure very low. It is the opposite of high blood pressure.
Low blood pressure (hypotension) would seem to be something to strive for. However, for many people, low blood pressure can cause symptoms of dizziness and fainting. In severe cases, low blood pressure can be life-threatening. The normal blood pressure of a human being is 120/80 hence anything lower than that becomes a low blood pressure.
Although blood pressure varies from person to person, a blood pressure reading of 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or less systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) or 60 mm Hg or less diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) is generally considered low blood pressure.
The causes of low blood pressure can range from dehydration to serious medical or surgical disorders. Low blood pressure is treatable, but it’s important to find out what’s causing your condition so that it can be properly treated.
For some people, low blood pressure can signal an underlying problem, especially when it drops suddenly or is accompanied by signs and symptoms such as:
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Lack of concentration
Cold, clammy, pale skin
Rapid, shallow breathing
When to see a doctor
In many instances, low blood pressure isn’t serious. If you have consistently low readings but feel fine, your doctor is likely to monitor you during routine exams.
Even occasional dizziness or lightheadedness may be a relatively minor problem — the result of mild dehydration from too much time in the sun or a hot tub, for example. In these situations, it’s not a matter so much of how far, but of how quickly, your blood pressure drops.
Still, it’s important to see your doctor if you experience any signs or symptoms of hypotension because they sometimes can point to more-serious problems. It can be helpful to keep a record of your symptoms, when they occur and what you were doing at the time.
Hypotension isn’t given so much attention by people as they do to hypertension. If is however important to know about it.
Types of low blood pressure
Doctors often break down low blood pressure (hypotension) into different categories, depending on the causes and other factors. Some types of low blood pressure include:
Low blood pressure on standing up (orthostatic, or postural, hypotension). This is a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up from a sitting position or if you stand up after lying down.
Ordinarily, gravity causes blood to pool in your legs whenever you stand. Your body compensates for this by increasing your heart rate and constricting blood vessels, thereby ensuring that enough blood returns to your brain.
But in people with orthostatic hypotension, this compensating mechanism fails and blood pressure falls, leading to symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision and even fainting.
Orthostatic hypotension can occur for a variety of reasons, including dehydration, prolonged bed rest, pregnancy, diabetes, heart problems, burns, excessive heat, large varicose veins and certain neurological disorders.
A number of medications also can cause orthostatic hypotension, particularly drugs used to treat high blood pressure — diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors — as well as antidepressants and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease and erectile dysfunction.
Orthostatic hypotension is especially common in older adults, with as many as 20 percent of those older than age 65 experiencing orthostatic hypotension.
But orthostatic hypotension can also affect young, otherwise healthy people who stand up suddenly after sitting with their legs crossed for long periods or after working for a time in a squatting position.
Low blood pressure after eating (postprandial hypotension). Postprandial hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure after eating. It affects mostly older adults.
Just as gravity pulls blood to your feet when you stand, a large amount of blood flows to your digestive tract after you eat.
Ordinarily, your body counteracts this by increasing your heart rate and constricting certain blood vessels to help maintain normal blood pressure. But in some people these mechanisms fail, leading to dizziness, faintness and falls.
Postprandial hypotension is more likely to affect people with high blood pressure or autonomic nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Lowering the dose of blood pressure drugs and eating small, low-carbohydrate meals may help reduce symptoms.
Low blood pressure from faulty brain signals (neurally mediated hypotension). This disorder causes blood pressure to drop after standing for long periods, leading to signs and symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and fainting.
Neurally mediated hypotension mostly affects young people, and it seems to occur because of a miscommunication between the heart and the brain.
When you stand for extended periods, your blood pressure falls as blood pools in your legs. Normally, your body then makes adjustments to normalize your blood pressure.
But in people with neurally mediated hypotension, nerves in the heart’s left ventricle actually signal the brain that blood pressure is too high, rather than too low.
As a result, the brain lessens the heart rate, decreasing blood pressure even further. This causes more blood to pool in the legs and less blood to reach the brain, leading to lightheadedness and fainting.
Low blood pressure due to nervous system damage (multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension). Also called Shy-Drager syndrome, this rare disorder causes progressive damage to the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and digestion.
Although this condition can be associated with muscle tremors, slowed movement, problems with coordination and speech, and incontinence, its main characteristic is severe orthostatic hypotension in combination with very high blood pressure when lying down.
Low blood pressure (hypotension) can occur in anyone, though certain types of low blood pressure are more common depending on your age or other factors:
Age. Drops in blood pressure on standing or after eating occur primarily in adults older than 65. Orthostatic, or postural, hypotension happens after standing up, while postprandial hypotension happens after eating a meal.
Neurally mediated hypotension happens as a result of a miscommunication between the brain and heart. It primarily affects children and younger adults.
Medications. People who take certain medications, such as high blood pressure medications like alpha blockers, have a greater risk of low blood pressure.
Certain diseases. Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and some heart conditions put you at a greater risk of developing low blood pressure.
I shall stop here for today.
Next week, I will be talking about how to deal with it and also prevention.
I do hope you find this interesting and enlightening. See you next week.
Do share if this helps.