Low Blood Pressure - Treatment
Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is pressure that flowing blood exerts on arterial walls. Normal blood pressure is between 110/65 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg. If blood pressure is below the lower limit, it is a sign of low blood pressure, or hypotension. Hypotension can have many causes and can affect a variety of age groups. In any case, it is important to treat long-term low blood pressure in order to prevent possible complications.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure, medically known as hypotension, is blood pressure repeatedly measured below 110/65 mmHg. Two types of low blood pressure, primary and secondary low blood pressure, are distinguished according to its causes.
- Primary low blood pressure appears due to unknown causes and typically affects young, healthy women. This is explained by possible deviations in the nervous and hormonal influences on blood pressure. This type of low blood pressure can also be found in athletes who are able to adapt to stress during training.
- Secondary low blood pressure usually occurs due to another underlying illness. These include kidney diseases, cardiovascular diseases or diseases of the internal secretory organs that produce hormones, for example in the case of decreased function of the thyroid or adrenal glands. Secondary low blood pressure can also be caused by major blood loss, burns, vomiting, diarrhea, pregnancy or dehydration.
The most severe cause of low blood pressure is shock. Shock can develop from a number of causes. These include bleeding, burns, bruising throughout the body, pancreatitis, acute myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, poisoning, major infections, severe allergic reactions, and many other life-threatening conditions.
Manifestations of Low Blood Pressure
In some individuals low blood pressure does not develop any symptoms, therefore they are unaware that they are suffering from this condition. If low blood pressure does manifest symptoms, they are typically common symptoms that appear due to a number of other conditions as well. These include fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, pallor, difficulty concentrating, shivering and cold extremities. In more severe cases, low blood pressure can cause vomiting, the appearance of flashing lights, cold sweats, nausea and short loss of consciousness.
Complications of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure results in a decreased blood supply to organs. Some organs are especially sensitive to this condition which can cause short loss of consciousness. This can lead to various falls and injuries. Significant fluctuations in blood pressure between normal and low levels can also lead to complications such as a stroke, dementia and other brain disorders. Long-term untreated low blood pressure can lead to the failure of certain organs, such as the heart, kidneys or brain.
Diagnosing Low Blood Pressure
A diagnosis of low blood pressure is based on taking a detailed medical history and a clinical examination. The most basic method of measuring blood pressure is using a sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure is measured when lying down, sitting and standing. This way a doctor can determine the influence of gravity on the patient's blood pressure. A patient may also be indicated for a Holter monitor. This is a device that is attached to the patient and records his or blood pressure over a 24 hour period. The patient must record all activities undergone during the recording, and the time they were performed. The doctor can then compare the Holter monitor's recordings with the recorded activities and assess the relation.
Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Treatment of low blood pressure is appropriate only when a patient experiences symptoms. Healthy individuals with no symptoms do not require treatment. Treatment of long-term low blood pressure is necessary in order to prevent the development of possible complications and organ failure. Treatment of low blood pressure is divided into conservative and pharmacological treatment.
Conservative Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Conservative treatment of low blood pressure is based primarily on minor lifestyle modifications. Individuals with low blood pressure benefit from regular exercise such as swimming and the avoidance of rapid changes in position in terms of standing from a sitting or lying position. Compression stocking or bandages on the lower limbs are also recommended as they help the return of blood to the heart. An increased salt and fluid intake, as well as consuming caffeinated drinks, coffee and black tea are suitable as well.
Pharmacological Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Pharmacological treatment of low blood pressure relies on the administration of medications that narrow the vascular walls, thus increasing blood pressure. Pharmacological treatment also requires treatment of the underlying illnesses that may be causing the low blood pressure. Treating secondary low blood pressure would not have any effect if the underlying illness is still present.
Preventing Low Blood Pressure
Prevention of low blood pressure relies on the avoidance of certain risk factors. These include slow standing from a sitting or lying position, sufficient amounts of physical activity and adequate fluid intake. Coffee and tea can also help prevent low blood pressure, though they should not be consumed too often as this could have the opposite effect.