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Low Blood Pressure


The term for extreme low blood pressure in medicine and physiology is hypotension. Hypotension occurs when the pressure in the arteries, which carry oxygenated blood to the body from the heart and bring back deoxygenated blood to the heart. Hypotension is more of a physiological condition rather than being considered a disease.

In order to understand hypotension, let’s start with the basics.

What is normal blood pressure range?


Normal blood pressure range is between 120/80 mmHg and 90/60 mmHg. Anything less than 90/60 mmHg is considered low blood pressure.

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Hypotension means that it s low, and there are recognizable symptoms present. In simple terms, it means that the brain, heart and other parts of the body are not getting adequate blood.

In sports persons and those who exercise regularly, low blood pressure is an indication of health and fitness. For others, hypotension can lead to dizziness and fainting or be a symptom of endocrine, heart, and neurological disorders. If blood pressure gets too low, it can divest the brain and vital organs of oxygen and other nutrients. In this state, the body is said to be in shock, and it can be life threatening.

Symptoms and causes

Symptoms of hypotension include lightheadedness and dizziness. Other symptoms could include blurry vision, confusion, nausea, sleepiness, weakness, and a cold, sweaty skin. Hypotension is of concern as the symptoms are often linked to other medical conditions like heart disease, advanced diabetes, or heart attack.

The causes of low blood pressure could be an underlying illness, alcohol, medications for anxiety and coronary heart disease, medications used during surgery, and pain killers. Other causes for hypotension are anaphylaxis, life-threatening situations, diabetes, dehydration, heart failure, and fainting.

Diagnosis

Hypotension must be tested before administering medication or treatment. The tests for diagnosing hypotension are ECG, complete blood count (CBC), blood cultures to screen for infection, urine analysis, and X- rays of the chest and abdomen. Consult a doctor for a thorough check-up and treatment plan.

When to seek help?

Blood pressure in general keeps varying through the day. Blood pressure is high when you wake up, and lowers when you sleep. It rises when you are excited or anxious. The body is also sensitive to changes, for instance, the pressure lowers when you suddenly stand and takes a little time to get back to normal. Through the day, the body keeps making adjustments to keep the blood pressure near to normal and ensure that oxygen is supplied to the heart, brain, kidneys and other vital organs.

Hypotension in healthy persons is not much of a problem, unless they are accompanied with other signs and symptoms of a serious illness. The treatment for low BP depends on the underlying cause. In cases of postural hypotension, a mild medication can get it resolved. For such persons, it is important that they stand slowly and rise out bed in stages. When one feels a drop in pressure, it is important to sit or lie down and keep the feet above heart level. Care should be taken when older people get hypotension as they can injure themselves with a fall.

Severe hypotension can cause shock, which is life threatening, for which it is important to call emergency number or seek immediate medical attention. If the person passes out or loses consciousness, call for immediate help. In case the person has no pulse or is not breathing, begin CPR.

Other symptoms which need medical attention are chest pain, fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, black or maroon stools, burning sensation during urination, and persistent vomiting or diarrhea.

Prevention

The ways to prevent hypotension is to drink plenty of fluids like water and fresh fruit juices. Eight to ten glasses of water a day is recommended. You can also add more salt to your diet and eat smaller meals more often, about five to six times a day.

Submitted on January 16, 2014
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