Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)

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Low blood pressure, medically known as hypotension, occurs when a person’s blood pressure is lower than 90/60. The normal blood pressure for an average, healthy person is lower than 120mmHg/ 80mmHg. The top (higher) number represents the systolic blood pressure, whereas the bottom (lower) number signifies the diastolic blood pressure. In general, blood pressure pertains to the pushing of the blood against the arterial walls.

Although blood pressure can vary from one person to another, in most healthy individuals, blood pressure lower than 120/80 may not cause symptoms and may actually be good/ normal.  Symptoms of low blood pressure only begin to manifest when blood pressure is less than 90/60 or when the blood pressure drops abruptly. Moreover, the symptoms of hypotension are not always severe and may be experienced differently by individuals.

Causes of Hypotension

There is a wide variety of causes of hypotension, which can range from something minor as loss of body fluids to an underlying medical disorder. It is important to determine the cause of the low blood pressure in order to give proper treatment.

  • Standing up quickly after coming from a sitting or lying position
  • Standing up for a prolonged period of time
  • Dehydration – too much fluid loss in the body
  • Pregnancy
  • Emotionally upsetting incidents
  • Diet that is poor in vitamins, proteins and minerals
  • Certain medications, such as those for hypertension (high blood pressure) and for the heart
  • Medical conditions such as severe infection, intestinal bleeding, thyroid disease or heart problems
  • Loss of large amounts of blood, severe burns and other trauma
Standing for a long period of time or sudden standing can lead to hypotension

Standing for a long period of time or sudden standing can lead to hypotension

Types of Hypotension

There are several types of hypotension that are classified based on when the blood pressure drops:

  • Orthostatic hypotension – hypotension that occurs when there is a change from sitting or lying position to standing
  • Postprandial hypotension – hypotension that develops immediately after eating
  • Neurally mediated hypotension – hypotension due to standing for a long time and from emotionally distressing incidents
  • Severe hypotension – hypotension that is associated with shock and is the most dangerous

Symptoms of Hypotension

When blood pressure drops to anything lower than 90/60, the following symptoms of hypotension may appear:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea that may be accompanied by vomiting
  • Fatigue or feeling tired
  • Weakness
  • Thirst
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Blurring of vision
  • Fast breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Depression
  • Confusion

First Aid Management for Hypotension

If symptoms of hypotension begin to manifest, that is the only time treatment for it should begin. The treatment will depend on the symptoms present, its severity and the underlying reason for it. Some of the first aid tips for managing low blood pressure include:

  • If a person is experiencing dizziness, faint or lightheaded, assist the person to a sitting or lying position.
  • If the person is lying down, elevate the head a few inches.
  • Give the person a solution of water and salt.
  • If the person is going to stand up, do slowly and assist.

Hypotension or low blood pressure symptoms appear when an individual’s blood pressure is lower than 90/60 causing the person to feel dizzy, faint or weak.

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