Decreased blood pressure ( hypotension ): Symptoms, Treatment & medicines
Decreased blood pressure ( hypotension )
Decreased blood pressure, also known as hypotension, is a condition in which the blood pressure in your arteries is lower than normal. Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. Normal blood pressure is generally considered to be around 120/80 mmHg, with a range of up to 140/90 mmHg considered acceptable in some cases.
What happens if blood pressure decreases?
When blood pressure decreases, it means that there is less force pushing blood against the walls of the blood vessels. This can lead to a decrease in the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the body’s organs and tissues, which can cause a range of symptoms and potential health problems.
Mild to moderate decreases in blood pressure may cause symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, blurred vision, nausea, and fatigue. These symptoms may be more pronounced when standing up quickly, such as when getting out of bed or standing up from a seated position. In some cases, low blood pressure may not cause any symptoms at all.
Severe drops in blood pressure can be life-threatening and may cause symptoms such as confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Severe hypotension may be caused by conditions such as shock, severe infections, severe allergic reactions, or heart problems.
Cause of Decreased blood pressure ( hypotension )
There are many potential causes of decreased blood pressure or hypotension. Some common causes include:
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough fluids can cause blood volume to decrease, leading to low blood pressure.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as diuretics, beta-blockers, and some heart medications, can lower blood pressure.
- Heart problems: Conditions such as heart failure, heart valve problems, or a heart attack can lead to low blood pressure.
- Endocrine problems: Disorders of the adrenal or thyroid glands, as well as diabetes, can cause hypotension.
- Blood loss: Loss of blood due to injury, surgery, or internal bleeding can cause a decrease in blood volume and lead to low blood pressure.
- Infection: Septic shock, a serious complication of bacterial infections, can cause a rapid drop in blood pressure.
- Allergic reactions: Severe allergic reactions can cause a drop in blood pressure.
- Aging: Blood vessels may become less flexible as we age, which can lead to lower blood pressure.
- Prolonged bed rest: Staying in bed for extended periods of time can cause blood to pool in the legs, leading to a drop in blood pressure.
Symptoms of Decreased blood pressure
The symptoms of decreased blood pressure can vary depending on the severity of the condition but may include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fainting or passing out
- Blurred vision or tunnel vision
- Fatigue or weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Cold, clammy skin
- Pale skin
- Rapid or weak pulse
- Confusion or disorientation
Diagnosis of Decreased blood pressure
The diagnosis of decreased blood pressure typically involves measuring your blood pressure using a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope or electronic device. A diagnosis of hypotension may be made if your blood pressure readings consistently fall below the normal range, which is typically considered to be 120/80 mmHg.
If your doctor suspects that you have hypotension, they may also perform additional tests to help determine the underlying cause. These tests may include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG measures the electrical activity of your heart and can help identify any abnormalities that may be contributing to your low blood pressure.
- Holter monitor: This is a portable ECG device that records your heart’s activity over a period of 24 hours or longer.
- Echocardiogram: This is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create images of your heart and can help identify any structural abnormalities or problems with your heart’s function.
- Tilt table test: This is a test that involves lying on a table that is tilted to various angles to see how your body responds to changes in position.
- Autonomic function tests: These tests measure the function of your autonomic nervous system, which controls many of the body’s automatic functions, such as blood pressure and heart rate.
Treatment for Decreased blood pressure
- Increase fluid and salt intake: Drinking more fluids and increasing salt intake can help increase blood volume, which can raise blood pressure.
- Compression stockings: Wearing compression stockings can help prevent blood from pooling in the legs and feet, which can help increase blood pressure.
- Medications: Several medications can be used to treat hypotension, including fludrocortisone, midodrine, and ephedrine.
- Treating underlying medical conditions: If hypotension is related to an underlying medical condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or anemia, treating the underlying condition may help improve blood pressure.
- Lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco, may help improve blood pressure and overall health
Prevention of Decreased blood pressure
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration can cause blood pressure to drop, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids, especially during hot weather or when exercising.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Avoid standing up too quickly: Standing up too quickly can cause blood to pool in the legs, which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. To prevent this, try to stand up slowly and hold onto something for support if needed.
- Wear compression stockings: Compression stockings can help prevent blood from pooling in the legs and feet, which can help maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Drinking alcohol and smoking can cause blood pressure to drop, so it is important to avoid these substances.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve circulation and maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Manage stress: Stress can cause blood pressure to rise or drop, so it is important to find ways to manage stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques or engaging in enjoyable activities.
- Take medications as prescribed: If you are taking medications that can cause low blood pressure, such as blood pressure medications or diuretics, it is important to take them as prescribed and discuss any concerns with your doctor.
Medicines For Decreased blood pressure
- Fludrocortisone: This medication helps increase blood volume by increasing the retention of salt and water in the kidneys.
- Midodrine: This medication helps constrict blood vessels, which can help raise blood pressure.
- Ephedrine: This medication stimulates the heart and constricts blood vessels, which can help increase blood pressure.
- Droxidopa: This medication helps increase levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that helps raise blood pressure.
- Mestinon (pyridostigmine): This medication can increase blood pressure by increasing nerve signals to the blood vessels.
- Northera (droxidopa): This medication can increase blood pressure by increasing levels of norepinephrine in the body.