Hypotension: What Is Considered Low Blood Pressure?

What Is Hypotension?

low blood pressure

Hypotension is the official medical term for low blood pressure. Low blood pressure is any measurement reading under 90/60. The top number in a blood pressure measurement is your systolic pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The normal range for systolic pressure is 90 to 120. The bottom number in a blood pressure measurement is your diastolic pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels in between heart beats. The normal range for diastolic pressure is 60 to 80. Hypotension is less common than its counterpart, hypertension, but should still be taken seriously. Many people have mildly low blood pressure and show no symptoms. However, severely low blood pressure, if left untreated,  can lead to coma or even death.

Causes

Hypotension can be caused by various things including, but not limited to the following:

  • Trauma
  • Dehydration
  • Dysautonomia
    • POTS
    • Orthostatic Intolerance
    • Neurocardiogenic Syncope
  • Severe Infection/Sepsis
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Pregnancy
  • Cardiovascular Disease
    • Heart Valve Issues
    • Heart Failure
    • Heart Attack
  • Lack of Nutrients
    • B12 Deficiency
  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nervous System Damage
  • Parathyroid Disease
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Certain Medications
    • Beta Blockers (Metoprolol, Pindolol, etc.)

low blood pressure causes

Types

Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension occurs mostly in patients with a form of dysautonomia, such as POTS or orthostatic intolerance. Orthostatic hypotension refers to a drop in blood pressure that occurs when upright.

Postprandial Hypotension

Postprandial hypotension refers to a drop in blood pressure that occurs after eating. It is mostly seen in the elderly.

Neurally Mediated Hypotension

Neurally mediated hypotension occurs when there is miscommunication between the brain and the heart, resulting in random drops in blood pressure.

Symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Tachycardia
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness

low blood pressure symptoms

Diagnosis

Diagnosing hypotension consists of various tests. First, your doctor will go over your symptoms and your medical history to see if you frequently suffer symptoms of low blood pressure. Your blood pressure should be taken at every doctor’s visit, and if you have had a history of low blood pressure readings, you likely have hypotension. Your doctor will order blood tests to look for underlying conditions that cause low blood pressure, like thyroid disorders or adrenal insufficiency. They may also order a tilt table test to look for forms of dysautonomia, such as POTS. They may recommend you use a sphygmomanometer to measure and track your blood pressure at home, helping to identify the cause.

Treatment

Treating hypotension depends on what the root cause of the low blood pressure is. If it caused by an underlying condition, such as a thyroid disease, management of the condition should result in stabilization of blood pressure. Mostly, treating hypotension consists of lifestyle changes. This includes a high sodium diet, drinking lots of fluids with electrolytes, and avoiding long periods of standing. Elevating the head of the bed when sleeping can also help patients resolve low blood pressure over time. Frequent exercise is recommended to increase blood volume and improve circulation. Medications such as Midodrine and Fludrocortisone can also be taken to increase blood pressure.

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