Low Blood Pressure

Before we jump into symptoms and treatments of Hypotension, the medical term for low blood pressure being experienced by patients, let’s understand what is low blood pressure and what does one need to look out for.

Firstly, blood pressure relates to several factors in the human body as well as the person’s lifestyle, age, health conditions etc. Essentially blood pressure is the pressure applied to the heart and arteries during inflow and outflow of blood through the circulatory system. In terms of simple mechanics, the heart is constantly pumping blood from the lungs to all other parts of the body as they act like the unique transportation network for all minerals in the body. Primarily, blood transports oxygen to all body parts and also transfers waste and other elements through its permeable network.

Now blood pressure is a good sign that you are alive and healthy but a high pressure on the system, known as hypertension is unhealthy as it can lead to an impact on the arterial system as well as several other organs. Contrarily low blood pressure is desirable but only to a certain extent. Low blood pressure reduces the risk of several medical challenges, such as strokes, heart attacks etc but if the blood pressure drops significantly lower than the prerequisite margin, then it's doing to cause degradation to several bodily faculties as they will essentially not receive the adequate amount of oxygen.

There are various systems in the body that regulate the blood pressure levels and accordingly counter low and high levels of blood pressure. Although for the proper functioning of these parameters, it's important to keep a check on the levels and look out for symptoms of low blood pressure, thereby reducing the possibilities of several medical problems. Let’s take a deeper look into symptoms and causes of low blood pressure.

Symptoms

-  Like we mentioned earlier, low blood pressure is not directly a cause of concern and in some cases can be healthy for an individual but the onset of symptoms of low blood pressure can raise alarm bells as this means that blood pressure levels are below the bare minimum and are now affecting bodily activities. Long periods of low blood pressure can result in temporary or permanent damage to organs, some of which might be crucial to your life support system.

-  Among the most common symptoms of low blood pressure are lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting. All of these are caused due to parts of the body and the brain in many cases not receiving enough oxygen to maintain basic body activities and results in a slow down of several faculties.

-  Another symptom of low blood pressure is a result of a disease in the body is Orthostatic Hypotension. This is the medical terminology that refers to cases when patients shifting from a sitting to a standing position experience the basic symptoms of low blood pressure, being lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting. When one stands, blood normally rushes to the lower parts of the body due to gravitational forces of the planet. In patients suffering from low blood pressure, this causes a significant reduction in blood flow from the higher regions of the body and thereby results in the immediate realization of symptoms like dizziness.

-  Heart disease to the likes of chest pains, anginas and or heart attacks are another symptom of low blood pressure, caused due to the lack of sufficient blood flow through the arteries and the heart. It essentially causes damage to the heart’s mechanism and thereby can render long-term medical problems to the patient, in extreme cases even death.

-  Kidney diseases are also common to patients suffering from low blood pressure. This occurs due to the insufficient blood passing through the kidney which acts as a purification system in the body. This increases creatinine and urea in the body that can, with enough quantity contaminate the body.

-  Long-term persistence of a low blood pressure condition in a patient will result in the onset of strokes. Strokes impact a person due to the failure of critical life support systems like the heart, lungs, kidney, brain etc. If blood flow doesn’t contribute to the organs based on their requirement, they will slowly deteriorate and fail in their processes. A major failure will result in a stroke and if the body is not able to recuperate from the same, it will lead to irreparable damage or death.

Causes

-  While in most cases, low blood pressure may often result from poor lifestyle choices, it can also be caused by other factors that reduce the volume of blood and cardiac output which is the amount of blood pumped by the heart. Let’s look at common causes of low blood pressure:

-  Dehydration is a high ranking cause for low blood pressure in people who suffer from vomiting, constant nausea, extreme exercise routines etc. This is due to large volumes of liquid being removed from the body and not enough fluid to replenish or maintain the bodily balance.

-  Heat exhaustion and heat strokes can also lead to levels of dehydration and similarly patients with high fever and body temperature may reduce body fluids significantly. As result in low levels of hydration, a patient may experience dry lips, mouth and thirst, as the level reduces further, orthostatic hypotension (the feeling of lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting when shifting from a seated to a standing position) and in extremely low cases will result in organ failures and strokes.

-  Moderate to severe levels of bleeding, cause blood loss and this directly reduces blood pressure. With significant blood loss, a patient will soon lose consciousness and if the reason for the blood loss is not treated, will result in critical systems shutting down.

-  In cases of organ inflammation, like in acute pancreatitis, blood permeates through arterial walls to enter the inflamed regions of the organ, thereby reducing blood volume and creating situations of low blood pressure.

-  The heart in a weakened condition will impact its ability to pump blood through the circulatory system and thereby contribute to low blood pressure. A previous major heart attack or multiple primary heart attacks could weaken the heart muscles and stop them from performing their activities. Infection and toxic chemicals in medication can also cause damage to the heart muscles and thereby reduce blood flow from the heart and into the arteries.

-  Pericarditis is a condition in which the pericardium, which is a sac surrounding the heart muscle, gets inflamed and causes fluids to accumulate. This causes pressure on the heart and compresses it, also restricting the muscle’s movement and can cause serious problems.

-  In certain drastic medical situations, like a pulmonary embolism, the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively in the body can be restricted by a blood clot. This diminishes the blood flow and created a stoppage which can result in a sure case of death if not treated immediately.

-  A slow pumping heart can also lead to a situation where the blood pressure levels will drop. The average resting heart rate for an adult in between 60-100 beats per minute and anything lower than 60 would be termed under a slow beating heart. For some, generally athletes, this can be normal and even desirable but for individuals with lesser body training and exertion requirement, it can lead to low blood pressure conditions which will then result in symptoms like lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting.

-  The opposite of a slow beating heart can also result in low blood pressure. Unlike common interpretation that a fast beating heart would pump in more blood if the arterial network is experiencing irregularities and not functioning appropriately. It will result in not enough blood passing through the system despite the heart muscles working overtime.

-  Medication and chemicals in the body can be another strong cause for low blood pressure. Certain types of calcium channel blockers and digoxins can slow the heart rate, especially in patients with a weakened heart and high susceptibility to such medications. Some of these medications are used to tackle cases of high blood pressure but can result in causing symptoms of low blood pressure as well. Also, chemicals that reduce blood volume are responsible for causing low blood pressure. Alcohol and narcotic substances and known to be responsible for such characteristics in patients.

-  In other causes, a vasovagal reaction is when a patient experiences temporary low blood pressure due to certain external and internal stimuli. Emotions of fear, pain, and other such extreme emotions can cause the vagus nerve to react and thereby induce symptoms of low blood pressure situation as an inbuilt bodily mechanism to alleviate the feeling.

Diagnosis

-  If you are a healthy person but end up experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, fainting or lightheadedness, these can be indications of low blood pressure. Contrarily if you have undergone heart issues, heart attacks and other such conditions then your possibility of having a low blood pressure is suspiciously high.

-  The preliminary checks involve measuring your blood pressure in both standing and lying down positions. In patients experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, there is a marked difference in blood pressure between lying down and standing positions. These are possible onset results of orthostatic hypotension.

-  Further from measuring the blood pressure is identifying the cause of the low blood pressure condition. A blood count would reveal a cause for the condition. Measurement of chemicals in the blood like electrolyte count would also provide indications such as dehydration levels, gland failures or acid levels in the blood.

-  Blood and urine samples or cultures may indicate infections and other problems leading to conditions of low blood pressure. While cortisol levels would indicate adrenal insufficiencies and possibly Addison's disease. Radiological tests can quite accurately identify several other aspects that could relate to the signs of low blood pressure.

-  There are several other methods to diagnose heart conditions and possible causes for low blood pressure levels in the body. Depending on the doctors understanding of the patient's medical history and possible challenges, they may recommend any number of such tests in an attempt to reconcile the medical condition.

Prevention

-  Like in most cases, blood pressure prevention starts with living a healthy and mindful lifestyle. Manage your consumption levels of alcohol and drink more healthy fluids to keep the body hydrated. Eat foods that are low in carb and high in vitamins and minerals. Supplement the heart with good exercise and routine to keep the muscles fit and functioning. Most often you need to look out for cases when medication and substance abuse could result in an impact on your blood volume and heart’s functioning.

-  Undergoing regular health check, especially if you are an elderly person, will provide you with the necessary information to stay ahead of the curve and prevent the onset of problems especially with blood pressure. Also, make sure to manage stress levels and thereby avoid contamination of blood with the release of hormonal chemical which can be harmful in larger quantities.

Treatment

-  Not all low blood pressure treatments are applicable to all those suffering from lower levels of blood pressure. If you are having low blood pressure without any of the symptoms, treatment might not be necessary but still undergoing an evaluation would be recommended. Having the systems without clear signs of low blood pressure might require consultation with a doctor as it could be an onset of other problems. Having low blood pressure and experiencing the symptoms is a clear sign that you need to undergo treatment and guided evaluation under the supervision of a cardiologist.

-  First and foremost the doctor would try to identify the cause for the condition and accordingly recommend a proposed approach for treatment. Keeping dehydration levels in control, increasing salt intake and the sure of medication are common examples of low blood pressure treatments. If the conditions are induced by other factors then surgical measures may also be needed.

A Medical Outlook

Low blood pressure can be a manageable situation and if looked after correctly even a boon but that said, one must be extremely conscious of their blood pressure levels and take the necessary precautionary measures to maintain healthy blood pressure levels as they contribute to other bodily functions and can be a cause of serious concern, if left unchecked.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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