The medical term for low blood pressure is “hypotension”which is defined as a reading of 90/60 mm / hg or less.
Low blood pressure is not necessarily a bad thing, since it means you have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. If you have hypotension, then it usually means that you are healthy and have nothing to worry about. Low blood pressure is preferable to high blood pressure.
Problems having low blood pressure
If your blood pressure drops when you stand up, then it can be an underlying factor. Whatever it is, which is causing your low blood pressure, it suddenly stops the blood supply to the brain, causing dizziness or fainting. Standing for a long period of time also causes this reaction.
There are two types of low blood pressure:
Postprandial hypotension: your blood pressure drops when you have eaten a meal. This can be caused by the accumulation of blood in the blood vessels inside your abdomen during digestion.
Postural hypotension: Low blood pressure as you stand from a lying or sitting position. Blood builds up in the veins of the legs which temporarily stop as it reaches your brain. The results of this are symptoms of dizziness and fainting.
The causes of the hypotension
- Medications to treat high blood pressure.
- Serious illnesses that can damage the heart.
- Addison’s disease (disease of the adrenal glands).
- Early stage of pregnancy.
Diagnosis of low blood pressure
It can be easily detected by your GP if he or she measures your blood pressure during a checkup. If you have symptoms of dizziness and fainting, then your doctor will ask you about what has happened to you, through a medical history, to proceed with a series of complementary tests.
If your doctor thinks you might have postprandial hypotension then your blood pressure should be taken before and after you have consumed any food.
If the doctor considers that you have postural hypotension then your blood pressure will be measured once you stand up after sitting or lying down. You can also be channeled for a ’tilt test’.
Treatment of low blood pressure
If you have blood pressure that is naturally low, then no treatment is required. But if you have postprandial hypotension or postural hypotension then a treatment will be necessary, although this will depend on what has caused either of these.
Postprandial hypotension can be treated with medications that constrict the veins to prevent blood from accumulating there. You will also be asked to lie down after meals to prevent dizziness and fainting, as well as avoid large amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods.
Postural hypotension is also treated with medications. Your GP can prescribe a medication that increases the amount of salt that you will keep in your body, although this has to be done very carefully. Excess salt in the diet can cause high blood pressure.
You will also be asked to do the following:
- Avoid excessive or strenuous exercise.
- Get up slowly after sitting or lying down, especially early in the morning.
- Avoid standing still for long periods of time.
- Use special compression stockings.
- Try not to have a very hot bath or shower.
- Increase the consumption of liquids and salts, but be careful about the amount of salt you ingest.