Normally, most people would celebrate if they’ve been told they have low blood pressure. However, once it crosses a certain threshold, it comes hypotension, and becomes a medical concern with possibly serious health ramifications. Some people may consider this a case of “too much of a good thing,” but in truth, the body has to stay within a certain range of blood pressure levels to function correctly.
What is hypotension?
Strictly speaking, hypotension is when a person has a resting blood pressure state of 90/60 (the first figure is for pressure in your arteries when your heart is at full pump pressure, and the second is when it is at rest). If your blood pressure is too low, it’s possible that your internal organs may not be getting enough oxygen delivered to them
However, for some people, particularly athletes and those who follow heavier t6han normal exercise regimens, it’s possible that blood pressure below 90/60 is normal. However, that does not mean they are spared from possible hypotension. Once hypotension symptoms appear, it’s time to go to a qualified doctor to see what can be done.
What are the symptoms?
Initial symptoms of hyptension include the following:
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
• Lack of focus or concentration
• Blurred vision
• Cold, clammy, and pale skin
• Rapid and shallow breathing
You should keep a record of what you are doing at the times the symptoms manifest, to further help your doctor’s diagnosis.
You should check yourself in immediately if you have the following secondary symptoms:
• Black or maroon, tarry stools
• Chest pain
• Fever higher than 101 degrees Farenheit
• Irregular heartbeat
• Urinary symptoms, such as burning while urinating
• Cough with phlegm
• Inability to eat or drink
• Prolonged diarrhea or vomiting
What are the types of hypotension?
There are many kinds of hypotension even if the symptoms are similar.
Postural / orthostatic hypotension
This usually is caused by a sudden change in position, such as from lying down or a sitting position to standing up immediately. This is common in older adults, particularly those who are 65 years old and above.
This usually happens after eating. Older adults are more prone to this.
Strangely enough, this is caused by neural miscommunication between the heart and brain systems. When standing for extended periods, the signals from brain and heart get into a neural crossfire, and circulation is disrupted, creating a lower heart rate. Younger people are usually more susceptible to this.
This is related to the state of shock. This must be treated promptly, and is life threatening.
Do take note that there are other types of hypotension, and they can be very serious. If you are checking in for hypotension, make sure that you get a diagnosis on what kind of hypotension you have.
What are the causes?
The following are possible causes for hypotension:
Some drugs can affect blood pressure, and can be a cause of hypotension. The following are some candidates for inducing hypotension:
• Alpha blockers
• Beta blockers
• Drugs taken for managing Parkinson’s disease
• Some kinds of antidepressant drugs
• Viagra, if combined with certain types of heart medication, and possibly nitroglycerine
• Anti-anxiety drugs
• Medication used for surgery
• Pain killers
The following medical conditions can cause hypotension:
• Blood loss through injury
• Circulation concerns due to heart attacks or damaged heart valves
• Severe allergic reactions (anaphylactic shock)
• Blood infections
• Endocrine concerns, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or adrenal irregularities
• Heart attack and heart failure
The following can also cause hypotension:
What are the complications?
In general, there are two major complications from hypotension:
• Injury from falls or accidents due to fainting, dizziness or some of the other symptoms can be life threatening, depending on the situation; this can be particularly dangerous for elderly adults
• Shock or extremely low hypotension can starve the internal organs – including the brain – of oxygen, and this can lead to life threatening damage at the very least
How is it treated?
Once a doctor diagnoses the cause of hypotension, treatment can start immediately, and may require rehydration, a change in medicines being taken, and prescription for drugs that can control hypotension. Aside from that, the doctor can also advise the patient on lifestyle and dietary changes that can minimize or remove hypotension spells.
What you can do, and prevention?
If you have been diagnosed with hypotension, or are prone to hypotensive spells, the following can help reduce or remove hypotension:
1) Train yourself not to do sudden movements from prone positions, like standing up fast from lying down or a sitting position.
2) Drink more water, and limit or avoid both alcohol and caffeine
3) You can wear compression stockings, if necessary.
Change of prescription
Do consult with our doctor (or doctors) about what medicines you are taking, if any. Zero in on possible hypotension-inducing ones, and find out if they can be substituted with other medicines.
Diet and lifestyle
1) If you decide to exercise specifically to remove hypotension, do make sure that you are monitored by your doctor or a qualified trainer. Do not deviate from your regimen, even if it feels you can do more. You can also incorporate meditation into your daily routine
2) The following diet suggestions can help with solving hypotension:
• Salt (but not too much; if you have other medical conditions, do consult with your doctor first)
• Fruits and vegetables
• Oatmeal, whole grain cereals, wheat-based food products, and brown rice
• Lean meat
• Stay away from oily, spicy, and fried foods
• Water intake should be increased, but be aware not to drink to the point that you get a bloated feeling
• Eggs and milk (again, consult with your doctor)
Vitamins C, B and E in proper doses can help prevent hypotension, particularly vitamin B5. All of the choices above help your body by providing a supply of these vitamins, aside from much-needed proteins (from the eggs, milk, and lean meat).
Consult with your doctor for a properly balanced meal, or, you can choose to use vitamin supplements if you feel that your diet may be lacking in one vitamin or the other.