Understanding low blood pressure – sign and symptoms
To know if you have high or low blood pressure, you need to know what a healthy blood pressure level is. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg (systolic pressure is 120 AND diastolic pressure is less than 80). Within certain limits, the lower your blood pressure reading is, the better. There is no specific number at which day-to-day blood pressure is considered too low, as long as no symptoms of trouble are present.
If my blood pressure stays around 85/55, do I have a health problem?
As long as you are not experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, there is no need for concern. Most doctors consider chronically low blood pressure dangerous only if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms of low blood pressure, such as:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fainting (called syncope)
- Dehydration and unusual thirst
Dehydration can sometimes cause blood pressure to drop. However, dehydration does not automatically signal low blood pressure. Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious condition in which your body loses more water than you take in. Even mild dehydration (a loss of as little as 1 percent to 2 percent of body weight), can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
- Lack of concentration
- Blurred vision
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
As long as no symptoms are present, low blood pressure is not a problem. However, if your blood pressure is normally higher or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, your low pressure may have an underlying cause.
Low blood pressure can occur with:
- Prolonged bed rest
During the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, it’s common for blood pressure to drop.
- Decreases in blood volume
A decrease in blood volume can also cause blood pressure to drop. A significant loss of blood from major trauma, dehydration or severe internal bleeding reduces blood volume, leading to a severe drop in blood pressure.
- Certain medications
A number of drugs can cause low blood pressure, including diuretics and other drugs that treat hypertension; heart medications such as beta blockers; drugs for Parkinson’s disease; tricyclic antidepressants; erectile dysfunction drugs, particularly in combination with nitroglycerine; narcotics and alcohol. Other prescription and over-the-counter drugs may cause low blood pressure when taken in combination with HBP medications.
- Heart problems
Among the heart conditions that can lead to low blood pressure are an abnormally low heart rate (bradycardia), problems with heart valves, heart attack and heart failure. Your heart may not be able to circulate enough blood to meet your body’s needs.
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