Low Blood Pressure - Causes
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is pressure that flowing blood exerts on walls of the blood vessels. Blood pressure measurements are determined based on years of professional experience and are thus artificially fixed numbers. Therefore every patient should be looked at individually. Normal blood pressure is between 110/65 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg. Blood pressure is expressed in millimeters mercury (mmHg) or torr. In the event that blood pressure falls below 110/65 mmHg, it is an indicator of low blood pressure.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure, medically known as hypotension, is repeated blood pressure readings of less than 110/65 mmHg. Two types of hypotension can be determined according to their causes; primary and secondary low blood pressure.
Primary Low Blood Pressure
Primary low blood pressure is when there is no known cause. This type of low blood pressure does not necessarily burden the individual in any way, and may be a protective factor for a number of dangerous illnesses related to high blood pressure. Sometimes blood pressure is a part of the body's physique. It is typically found in young, healthy women, which can be due to certain deviations in the nervous and hormonal management of blood pressure. Low blood pressure can also be acquired, such as in athletes, due to physical training and adaptation to stress.
Secondary Low Blood Pressure
Secondary low blood pressure has known causes. Secondary low blood pressure includes a condition called orthostatic hypotension.
- Orthostatic hypotension is a condition that can be completely natural and does not accompany other illnesses. It is low blood pressure occurring during rapid changes in position from a sitting or lying position, to standing. It is most frequently found in young people, though orthostatic hypotension can affect older individuals above 65 years of age, where it is manifested by falls and more frequent illnesses. In the latter case, the cause is too high a dose of medication intended to treat high blood pressure, impaired reaction of the body to changes in blood pressure due to damaged walls of blood vessels themselves as a result of lipid and calcium deposits or damage to the nervous system due to other illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes or alcoholism.
- Some patients experience a drop in blood pressure following a meal, and it also naturally falls when sleeping.
- Low blood pressure can also be caused by illnesses affecting the heart, blood vessels and the endocrine system, i.e. the system of internal secretory glands which include the pancreas, thyroid, adrenal and pituitary gland. Internal secretory glands produce hormones affecting blood pressure. The thyroid produces a hormone that affects the metabolism of the whole body. Manifestations of decreased thyroid function include low blood pressure. The adrenal glands also produce a variety of hormones that take part in regulating blood pressure, such as adrenalin. A lack of adrenalin or other adrenal hormones causes the inability of the body to react to the stress of high blood pressure, which can eventually result in death of the individual.
- Other condition that can cause low blood pressure include bleeding, burns, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, pregnancy, recovery from an illness requiring long-term bed rest, heat or smoking marihuana.
- The most severe cause of low blood pressure is shock. Shock can arise due to a variety of causes. It can develop during bleeding, burns, bruising of a large percentage of the body, acute pancreatitis, acute myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, poisoning, major infections, severe allergic reactions and a number of other life-threatening conditions.
Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure
Symptoms of low blood pressure are generally non-specific, which means they are symptoms of a number of other illnesses as well. Symptoms of low blood pressure include fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, pallor, difficulty concentrating, shivering and cold extremities. In severe cases, low blood pressure can cause dizziness, the appearance of flashing lights, cold sweats, nausea and short-term loss of consciousness.
Complications of Low Blood Pressure
As a result of low blood pressure, the blood supply of organs decreases. Some organs are very sensitive to this, which can result in brief loss of consciousness. This can lead to various falls and injuries. Significant fluctuations in blood pressure, i.e. fluctuations of normal and low blood pressure, often lead to strokes, dementia and other brain disorders. Long-term, untreated low blood pressure can lead to failure of certain organs such as the heart, kidneys or brain.
Diagnosing Low Blood Pressure
A diagnosis of low blood pressure is determined based on a careful and detailed medical history. It is important to determine the possible presence of low blood pressure in the patient's family, as well as the patient's current observed manifestations. It is very important to take blood pressure reading repeatedly with the help of a sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure is taken when lying down, sitting and standing. This allows the recording of the influence of gravity on the patient's blood pressure. It is also possible to indicate the patient for Holter monitoring. This is a device attached to the patient's body, which records and measures his or her pressure over a 24 hour period. The patient needs to record all activity undergone during the recording period, and the time they were performed. The doctor can then compare the data from the Holter meter with the activity the patient recorded, and assess the relation.
Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Treatment of low blood pressure is applied in cases where the patient experiences manifestations. In healthy individuals with no symptoms, there is no need to treat low blood pressure. If low blood pressure is accompanied by certain unpleasant symptoms, an increase in salt, coffee and fluid intake as well as wearing compression bandages on the legs are recommended. Secondary low blood pressure requires treatment of the primary illness, i.e. treatment of the cause of low blood pressure. In the event that pharmacotherapy is necessary, medications that influence the tension of the walls of blood vessels are administered.
Preventing Low Blood Pressure
Prevention of low blood pressure is based on avoiding factors that can lead to this condition. These include sitting up slowly, sufficient amounts of physical activity and an adequate fluid intake. Prevention of low blood pressure can also include drinking coffee and black tea, though these should not be consumed too often as they can bring on constipation.