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What are the symptoms of hypotension?

One type of dizziness can be due to low blood pressure, which may be caused by dehydration, medication, heart disease or a combination of factors. One feels as though he or she might “black out” or lose consciousness. This feeling usually occurs soon after standing or getting up from lying down and may be accompanied by visual symptoms. Sitting or lying down often relieves the feeling. Careful medical evaluation is appropriate for this dizziness.

Deb Cordes
Deb Cordes on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist

Hypotension means low blood pressure. You may run a low blood pressure and experience no signs or symptoms. If you begin to experience any of the following symptoms it may mean that your blood pressure is too low and you will need to seek medical attention. The following signs/symptoms may be experienced if your blood pressure is too low. Nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, pale and clammy skin, rapid shallow breathing, a feeling that you might pass out or faint.

The signs and symptoms of hypotension are as follows:

Orthostatic hypotension
The signs and symptoms of orthostatic hypotension may happen within a few seconds or minutes of standing up after you've been sitting or lying down. You may feel that you're going to faint, or you may actually faint. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach

These signs and symptoms go away if you sit or lie down for a few minutes until your blood pressure adjusts to normal.

Neurally mediated hypotension
The signs and symptoms of neurally mediated hypotension (NMH) are similar to those of orthostatic hypotension. They occur after standing for a long time or in response to an unpleasant, upsetting, or scary experience. The drop in blood pressure with NMH doesn't last long and often goes away after sitting down.

Severe hypotension linked to shock
In shock, not enough blood flows to the major organs, including the brain. The early signs and symptoms of reduced blood flow to the brain include lightheadedness, sleepiness, and confusion. In the earliest stages of shock, it may be hard to detect any signs or symptoms. In older people, the first symptom may only be confusion.

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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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.