Low blood pressure symptoms and causes. All you need to know about hypotension
What is low blood pressure?
Hypotension is the medical term for when your arterial blood pressure drops below 90/60 mmHg. Hypotension is made up of three components: blood volume, blood vessel health, and heart rate. A problem with any one of these components can lead to a decrease in blood pressure. With this in mind, it's best to consult a medical professional to determine what might be causing your hypotension.
A rapid decrease in blood pressure can have dangerous side effects, one of which being a lack of blood supply to the organs, also known as shock. Symptoms of shock include cold and sweaty skin, increased breathing, blueish skin color, clouding of consciousness, and a weak, rapid pulse. If you suspect someone to be suffering from shock, call 911 immediately.
What is considered low blood pressure can vary distinctly from person to person. A decrease of normal values by 20% or more is considered a major decrease in blood pressure.
Symptoms of a decrease in blood pressure include:
- impaired motor coordination;
- pale skin;
- slow or rapid heart rate.
What does it feel like when blood pressure drops?
Signs of low blood pressure
Very often, people with low blood pressure experience:
- Migraine-like pains, usually on one side of the head. These pains are dull and constant and are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
- Dizziness and darkening in the eyes, especially when standing up suddenly.
- Weakness and rapid exhaustion. By the end of the day, there's a noticeable decrease in the ability to work, along with increased distraction and worsening of the memory.
- Low blood pressure might result in obvious changes to a person's mental state. People suffering from hypotension can be irritated, emotionally unstable, experience mood swings, and are more susceptible to depression.
- Constant yawning and the feeling of not getting enough air. This often comes with physical exercise. People with low blood pressure often feel coldness and numbness of their hands and feet and hypersensitivity to hot and cold weather.
What can cause low blood pressure?
There are several conditions can trigger low blood pressure.
- Pregnancy. The circulatory system expands rapidly during pregnancy, causing your blood pressure to drop as a result. This is normal, and blood pressure usually returns to its normal levels after delivery.
- Heart problems. Some heart conditions that can lead to low blood pressure include extremely low heart rate (bradycardia), heart valve problems, heart attack, and heart failure.
- Endocrine problems. Parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease), low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and, in some cases, diabetes, can cause low blood pressure.
- Dehydration. When your body loses more water than it gets, you can experience weakness, dizziness, and fatigue. Dehydration, and consequently low blood pressure, can be caused by fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics, and strenuous exercise.
- Blood loss. Losing a large amount of blood from a serious injury or from internal bleeding reduces blood volume. This in turn causes blood pressure to rapidly drop.
- Severe infection (septicemia). When an infection in the body enters the bloodstream, it can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood pressure called septic shock.
- Severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock). Anaphylaxis can cause breathing problems, hives, itching, throat swelling, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Some common triggers of this severe and potentially life-threatening reaction include foods, certain medications, insect venoms, and latex.
- Nutrient deficiency. Low blood pressure can be a result of a vitamin B-12, folic acid, or iron deficiency, which can slow the production of red blood cells in the body (anemia).
- Adolescence. Young people ages 14–18 may experience low blood pressure. This is often more prominent in girls than in boys due to menstruation and hormonal changes. If hypotension occurs without other symptoms, it usually goes away on its own with age. A healthy lifestyle can accelerate this process.
Learn more about hypotension, and what changes you need to make if you suffer from hypotension, in our video.
Don't forget to monitor your blood pressure from time to time. We wish you good health!