Hypotension

Hypotension

Clinically known as hypotension, low blood pressure (LBP) may indicate signs of underlying health problems. While its common for some people to always have hypotension, severe drops in your blood pressure can deprive your body of oxygen and result in damage to vital organs. Sudden drops may be caused by heart failure, loss of blood, an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis or sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection. Doctors define a reading below 90/60 as low blood pressure. You may become dizzy or even faint if your pressure falls below this reading. As you get older, you are more likely to develop either high or low blood pressure. Medications that help treat high blood pressure may actually cause you to have low blood pressure.

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  • 1 Answer
    A

    Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden fall in blood pressure that occurs when a person assumes a standing position. It may be caused by hypovolemia, a decreased amount of blood in the body, resulting from the excessive use of diuretics, vasodilators, or other types of drugs; dehydration; or prolonged bed rest. The disorder may be associated with Addison's disease, atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries), diabetes, and certain neurological disorders including Shy-Drager syndrome and other dysautonomias. The symptoms that generally occur after sudden standing include dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, and syncope (temporary loss of consciousness).

    This answer from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

  • 1 Answer
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    When orthostatic hypotension is caused by hypovolemia due to medication, the disorder may be reversed by adjusting the dosage or discontinuing the medication. When the condition is caused by prolonged bed rest, improvement may occur by sitting up with increasing frequency each day. In some cases, physical counter-pressure such as an elastic hose or a whole-body inflatable suit may be required. Dehydration is treated with salt and fluids.

    This answer from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

  • 1 Answer
    A

    Doctors often can successfully treat hypotension. Many people who have the disorder live normal, healthy lives.

    If you have low blood pressure, you can take steps to prevent or limit symptoms, such as dizzy spells and fainting.

    If you have orthostatic hypotension, get up slowly after sitting or lying down. Eat small, low-carbohydrate meals if you have postprandial hypotension (a form of orthostatic hypotension).

    If you have neurally mediated hypotension, don't stand for long periods. Also, drink plenty of fluids and try to avoid unpleasant or scary situations. Learn to recognize symptoms and take action to raise your blood pressure. Children who have NMH often outgrow it.

    Other lifestyle changes also can help you control low blood pressure.

    Ask your doctor about learning how to measure your own blood pressure. This will help you find out what a normal blood pressure reading is for you. Keeping a record of blood pressure readings done by health professionals also can help you learn more about your blood pressure.

    This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

  • 2 Answers
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    Treatment depends on the type of hypotension you have and how severe your signs and symptoms are. The goals of treatment are to relieve signs and symptoms and manage any underlying condition(s) causing the hypotension.

    Your response to treatment depends on your age, overall health, and strength. It also depends on how easily you can stop, start, or change medicines.

    In a healthy person, low blood pressure without signs or symptoms usually needs no treatment.

    If you have signs or symptoms of low blood pressure, you should sit or lie down right away. Put your feet above the level of your heart. If your symptoms don't go away quickly, you should seek medical care right away.

    Orthostatic Hypotension
    There are a number of treatments for orthostatic hypotension. If you have this type of low blood pressure, your doctor may advise making lifestyle changes such as:
    • Drinking plenty of fluids, like water
    • Drinking little or no alcohol
    • Standing up slowly
    • Not crossing your legs while sitting
    • Gradually sitting up for longer periods if you've been immobile (not able to move around much) for a long time due to a medical condition
    • Eating small, low-carbohydrate meals if you have postprandial hypotension (a form of orthostatic hypotension)

    This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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  • 1 Answer
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    A primary care doctor or specialist may diagnose and treat hypotension. The type of specialist most commonly involved is a cardiologist (heart specialist).

    Other specialists also may be involved, such as surgeons, nephrologists (kidney specialists), neurologists (brain and nerve specialists), or others.

    This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

  • 2 Answers
    A

    General: If a person has symptoms of hypotension, the goal is to determine the underlying cause. A doctor may perform one or more of the following tests to reach a diagnosis.

    Blood tests: Blood tests may be performed to determine if an infection is present in the blood. They are also used to detect possible endocrine problems, such as low blood sugar levels, an underactive or overactive thyroid gland, or adrenal insufficiency. Blood tests may also determine if the patient has vitamin B-12 or folate deficiencies and/or anemia.

    Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG): An electrocardiogram may be performed to detect abnormalities in the heart's rhythm or structure. It can also detect problems with the supply of blood to the heart muscle. During the procedure, small electrode patches attached to the person's chest, arms, and legs. These electrodes transmit information about the electrical activity of the heart to a monitor.

    Stress test: A stress test may also be performed to determine how blood pressure changes when the heart is working harder than normal. This test may make it easier for a doctor to diagnose hypotension. During the test, the patient either exercises (often on a treadmill) or is given medication to make the heart work harder. Small electrodes are placed on the patient's chest to monitor the electrical activity of the heart. The patient's blood pressure may also be monitored. People with hypotension will have lower blood pressure during a stress test than healthy people who undergo a stress test.

    Tilt-table test: Patients who have postural hypotension or neutrally mediated hypotension may undergo a tilt-table test. During the test, the patient lies on a table that is tilted to raise the upper part of the body. The patient's blood pressure is measured during the test to determine how the body reacts to changes in position.

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  • 4 Answers
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    In general, hypotension (low blood pressure) is only considered a problem when symptoms develop. Symptoms may be persistent or they may only occur when a person stands for extended periods of time, stands up after sitting or lying down, or after a person eats. If blood pressure drops suddenly, it is often a sign of a life-threatening medical condition, and the person should immediately be taken to the nearest hospital.

    Common symptoms: Common symptoms of hypotension include dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, pale skin, and fatigue. Individuals should be taken to the nearest hospital if they faint or lose consciousness, have difficulty breathing, or experience nausea. These may be signs of a serious medical problem.

    Additional symptoms: Depending on the underlying cause, additional symptoms may also be present. For instance, if a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, is causing symptoms, additional symptoms may include itching, hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue, stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

    Copyright © 2014 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.

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  • 1 Answer
    A

    Hypotension can affect people of all ages. However, people in certain age groups are more likely to have certain types of low blood pressure.

    Older adults are more likely to have orthostatic and postprandial hypotension. Children and young adults are more likely to have neurally mediated hypotension.

    People who become dehydrated or volume depleted due to many reasons are at risk for hypotension.

    People who take certain medicines, such as high blood pressure medicines, are at higher risk for low blood pressure. People who have central nervous system disorders (such as Parkinson's disease) or some heart conditions also are at higher risk for low blood pressure.

    Other risk factors for hypotension include being immobile (not being able to move around very much) for long periods and pregnancy. Hypotension during pregnancy is normal and goes away after birth.

    This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

  • 3 Answers
    A

    Hypotension is low blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood.

    Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.

    You will most often see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic, such as 120/80 mmHg. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury-the units used to measure blood pressure.)

    mal blood pressure in adults is lower than 120/80 mmHg. Hypotension is blood pressure lower than 90/60 mmHg.

    This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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  • 1 Answer
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    There are several types of hypotension. People who always have low blood pressure have chronic asymptomatic hypotension. They have no signs or symptoms and need no treatment. Their low blood pressure is normal for them.

    The three main types of this kind of hypotension are orthostatic hypotension, neurally mediated hypotension (NMH), and severe hypotension linked to shock.

    Orthostatic hypotension

    This type of low blood pressure occurs when standing up from a sitting or lying down position. It can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or even make you faint.

    Orthostatic hypotension occurs if your body isn't able to adjust blood pressure and blood flow fast enough for the change in position. This type of low blood pressure usually lasts for only a few seconds or minutes after you stand up. You may need to sit or lie down for a short time while your blood pressure returns to normal.

    Orthostatic hypotension can occur in all age groups. However, it's more common in older adults, especially those who are frail or in poor health. It can be a symptom of other medical conditions, and treatment often focuses on treating the underlying condition(s).

    Neurally mediated hypotension

    With NMH, blood pressure drops after you've been standing for a long time. You may feel dizzy, faint, or sick to the stomach as a result. This type of low blood pressure also can occur if you have an unpleasant, upsetting, or scary experience.

    Severe Hypotension Linked to Shock

    People may say a person has "gone into shock" as a result of an upsetting event. But to doctors, the word "shock" has a different meaning. This implies collapse of the cardiovascular system from a variety of reasons.

    This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.