Is hypotension dangerous?
Hypertension IS dangerous but hypo-tension articles are rare and often inadequate.
What about the others, who suffer from low blood pressure? It is not life threatening condition, but the quality of life can be really bad.
Especially if you have bad migraines often.
According to medical science, we define hypo-tension when systolic pressure is below 90 mmHg and/or diastolic pressure is below 60 mm/hg. Not surprisingly - some people are comfortable with lower blood pressure, while others collapse with 115/70.
It varies and many people have some or none of the symptoms.
There are various symptoms, some are present more often while others depend on the person.
- lack of concentration,
- blurred vision,
- cold sweat,
- cold sticky skin,
- hunger and thirst.
Rarely, with very low blood pressure a person may collapse. Laying on the ground quickly restores the blood in brain and consciousness is regained. But you better be prepared so you prevent a painful meeting with the ground or furniture edges. If you start feeling light headed find a place to rest and stay calm. Low blood pressure itself can't kill you. Breaking your neck can.
When to seek medical attention.
Even if you have somewhat low blood pressure - if you don't feel the symptoms impacting your daily life - no medical attention is needed. On the other hand, if you feel the symptoms for a while and this impacts your quality of life - visit a doctor! He may ask you to monitor your blood pressure with a small wrist device few times each day and collect data for 1 week. Then if needed, the doctor will assign medication or suggest some changes in your habits you may need to apply.
Older patients may have underlying causes for hypo-tension, so a visit to a specialist is important. If there is sclerosis in the blood vessels, sudden drop in the blood pressure may lead (or even be a sign) to infarction or ischemic insult. They need to be hospitalized and lay down for a while, drink enough liquids and keep calm. The specialist will tell if home treatment is suitable.
In all cases, when sudden drop in blood pressure is felt with erroneous and slow reactions to the surroundings - call emergency and lay down for a while, drink a glass of water and wait for the emergency team to come. Do not self medicate! Hypo-tension may be a sign for infection, allergy or strong bleeding (in some internal organs you may be unable to see) and you can't do much about this at home.
There are some causes that can trigger hypo-tension and are not life threatening.
Gestation: With the quick growth of the fetal vein system more blood is needed to nourish the baby and normally the temps may outgrow mother's bone marrow ability to produce more blood. Gestating women may feel drop of 5 to 15 mm/hg in the first few months and this is absolutely normal. Eat more proteins, drink enough fluids and you will recover faster. Much more scary is to have high blood pressure while pregnant and you MUST consult your gynecologist about this.
Dehydration: Losing fluids in your body for any reason may lead to low blood pressure (inadequate intake, perspiration due to heavy work or sports, diarrhea, vomiting, diuretics etc.)
Heart disease: Any underlying condition such as slow heart rate, heart failure and mitral valve prolapse may lead to severe hypo-tension.
Endocrine conditions: Having thyroid problems, gout, diabetes or other may affect the blood pressure with extreme highs and lows.
Diet: Extreme diets may lead to anemia and hypo-tension.
Very often hypotensive people have problem standing up from seated, laid or bended position. You tie your shoes and when you stand up you feel light vertigo or annoying short timed headache.
This happens because blood suddenly gets sucked down from your head which was in more lower position.
Your body tries to compensate by elevating your heart rate and constricting arteries. Sudden rush of blood back to your head then leads to blushed face and light headache from the blood vessels inflating again inside your head.
This condition is more present in elderly and that's why they have problem standing up often. Old people with low blood pressure should be careful when standing up so they don't faint, trip and harm themselves.
Orthostatic hypo-tension does not need special care, just attention and awareness.
When to medicate?
Leave this question to your medical specialist. Do not try to self medicate because it may get worse.
Most of present day hypo- and hypertensive medications are prescription only.
- Drink enough fluids and use normal quantities of table salt (no more than 5-6 grams each day).
- Drink one glass of red wine with dinner or before bed.
- Have a good breakfast with OJ and some dairy product of your choice.
- If you can stand the strong taste and aroma - use garlic more often.
- Use magnetic bracelets. They tend to normalize blood pressure in the long term.
- Coffee does not help much in the long term. If you are dedicated to coffee, you are probably not elevating low blood pressure much after, and 30 minutes after your cup of hot beverage the blood pressure returns to your normal range.
My personal choice when I was hypotensive youngster was a cup of butter milk (made from cow yogurt) with a pinch of salt, cucumber and toast. Excellent quick breakfast.