Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries (blood vessels). Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood through blood vessels, supplying the body's muscles, organs, and tissues with the oxygen and nutrients that they need to function. Throughout the day, an individual's blood pressure rises and falls many times in response to various factors. For instance, stress typically increases blood pressure, and patients generally have lower blood pressure during sleep.
Blood pressure is represented as two numbers: systolic pressure over diastolic pressure. These numbers are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Systolic pressure indicates the amount of pressure that the heart produces when it is pumping blood throughout the body. Diastolic pressure indicates the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between beats.
Normal blood pressure is considered lower than 120/80 millimeters of mercury. Many experts consider 115/75 millimeters of mercury to be optimal. It is important to note that this target blood pressure may be different for people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. If a person's blood pressure it less than 90/60 millimeters of mercury, it is considered lower than normal. Having just one number in the low range is considered low.
There are many potential causes of hypotension, such as allergic reactions, excessive blood loss, endocrine problems, dehydration, heart problems, medications, nutritional deficiencies, pregnancy, and septicemia and septic shock. Because there are so many different causes of hypotension, it can occur in almost anyone.
Treatment is rarely needed if hypotension does not cause any signs or symptoms. If symptoms are present, treatment depends on the underlying cause. If it is unclear what is causing symptoms of hypotension, treatment focuses on raising blood pressure. Blood pressure may be increased with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as with medications.
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