Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is more of a physiological condition than a disease. In medicine, and particularly physiology, hypotension refers to a condition of abnormally low blood pressure in the systemic circulation and the arteries. Medical terms for low blood pressure is hypotension which can be classified into postprandial hypotension, neutrally mediated hypotension (NMH) and orthostatic hypotension. Hypotension is numerically blood pressure that is lower than 90/60.
The body blood pressure is indicated as by two numbers. The first number represents the systolic pressure which is a term for pressure that exists in the arteries the moment the heart beats and it gets filled with blood. The lower number measures diastolic pressure which is that pressure that exists in the arteries between the beats that is when the heart rests. Optimal low blood pressure is any reading below 120/80.
Low blood pressure or hypotension in the normal sense is not a health concern especially if it is not accompanied with any symptoms and need not be treated. However, low blood pressure can be a sign of a hidden physiological problem especially if it occurs in old people. Hypotension commonly leads to less blood flow to the brain, heart and other vital organs.
The risk of hypotension and even high blood pressure increases with age largely due to changes that occur as one ages. Close to 30 percent of people aged above 65 experience postural hypotension. When bloods pressure suddenly drops, the brain is deprived of vital oxygen and nutrients from the blood that it will need to function properly by the second. This will lead to lightheadedness or a prolonged dizziness. These sudden slumps in blood pressure are common when the affected individual is rising from a sitting or sleeping position. This is what is called orthostatic hypotension or postural hypotension. When the patient stands for very long, then neutrally mediated hypotension can result. Postural hypotension on the other hand is a failure of the nervous or cardiovascular system to react to sudden body changes.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure occurs because of the following instances:
- During the first six months of pregnancy, it is very common for blood pressure to drop
- Prolonged sleep and bed rest can cause low blood pressure especially for the aged.
- Medications that are taken to cure other diseases or medical conditions have been known to cause hypotension. These drugs include drugs for heart problems like the beta blockers, drugs for treatment of hypertension like the diuretics, trycyclic antidepressants, drugs for treatment of erectile dysfunction in men especially if used together with nitroglycerine, alcohols and narcotics. Many over the counter drugs cause hypotension when used in combination with HBP medicines.
- Bradycardia and other heart problems. Many heart problematic conditions lead to inability of the heart to supply enough blood to meet the need of the body. Such problems include heart attack, heart failure and heart valves.
- Complications of the endocrine system. The combination of organs involved in hormonal production in the body is referred to as the endocrine system. The malfunctions of any endocrine organ or disease that affects could result in hear complications as well. Among those problems that will result in hypotension include hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency), parathyroid disease, low blood sugar levels and in a few of the cases diabetes.
- Septic shock or severe infections. Septic shock refers to a medical process in which bacteria that was originally in the lungs, urinary tract or the abdomen or any other place is transferred to the blood circulation. The toxic waste that the bacterial will produce in the blood vessels will lead to a profound life threatening low blood pressure.
- Anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is the extreme instances of allergic reactions. Most allergies are caused by sensitivity to cold, hot, dust, smoke, drugs, and certain foods like fish, insects and stings from insects. When a person overreacts to these substances as indicated by itching, hives, breathing problems, swollen throat, vomit attack then even low blood pressure could result.
- Deficiencies associated with nutrition like folic acids, vitamin B-12 can cause diseases that are associated with low blood pressure like anemia.
- Standing for long periods of time can cause low blood pressure. This type is called neutrally mediated hypotension. Unlike orthostatic hypotension, this disorder will cause blood pressure to drop slowly as nausea and dizziness sets in and could culminate in fainting. Neutrally mediated hypotension is common among the young because of misdirected communication that occurs between the brain and the heart.
Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure
Most doctors consider low blood pressure to be dangerous if it is accompanied by several symptoms. These symptoms include:
- The most common symptom of low blood pressure is dizziness and lightheadedness. Very low blood pressure often results in fainting (also called syncope) and in some cases seizures.
- Feeling unusually thirst is a sign of dehydration that in the absence of diarrhea would be indicative of low blood pressure. However, dehydration as a sign of low blood pressure can be a bit tricky. Dehydration that is as little as 2 percent of ones weight could cause dizziness, fatigue and even weakness. Other causes of dehydration include vomiting, fever, overuse of diuretics, over exercising and too hot weather. Before concluding on hypotension, one needs to be sure that hypotension is not s a result of any of the factors above. Other symptoms associated with hypotension are:
- Chest pain, cough and phlegm production.
- Shortness of breath and irregular feelings of heartbeat.
- Dyspepsia and dysuria.
- High body temperatures. Temperatures above 38.3 degrees Celsius accompanied by headaches.
- Stiff neck and severe back pain especially in the upper region.
- Foul smell in the urine all the time.
- Temporary loss of vision or blurring and in extreme cases total loss of vision.
- Acute anaphylaxis or life threatening reactions to allergies.
- Continued hypotension can result to loss of hair.
- Disorders with connective tissues such as the |Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Low Blood Pressure Home Remedies
Before a patient is treated for low blood pressure, the doctor has to perform tests to ensure that he or she is indeed suffering from low blood pressure as indicated by the symptoms. The range of tests that a doctor can perform includes:
- Basic metabolic panel.
- X-ray of the chest and the abdomen if necessary.
- Complete blood count, the CBC and sometimes the blood differential test.
- Blood cultures to check for infection.
- Tilt table test can be used to evaluate neurocardiogenic syncope.
The various treatments available for hypotension depend on the causes. When healthy people experience mild hypotension, referred to as asymptomatic hypotension, then treatment is not required. Instead the following simple home remedies can be tried: Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Electrolytes– Addition of electrolytes to a diet will relieve some of these symptoms.
- Try This– The patient should be made to lie slowly on the back (dorsal decubus). If the legs are raised then more blood will flow to the organs located on the chest and the head. This process is called increasing the venous strain. One process that was used traditionally but is no longer recommended is the trendelenburg position.
- Control Blood Sugar Levels– Controlling the body blood sugar levels,
- Foxglove: the use of this herb leaves is very powerful in treating low blood pressure. Most patients with abnormal blood pressure are advised to take it acts as a cardiac stimulant that decreases a person’s heart beat rate hence boosting the ability for ones heart to pump therefore normalizing low blood pressure.
- Beetroot: The juice of raw beetroot is one of the most effective home remedies for low blood pressure. The patient is advised to drink a cup of this juice twice daily for treating this condition.
- Indian Spikenard: The herb Indian spikenard is another effective herbal remedy for low blood pressure. It should be taken in doses of about 30 to 40 grains with a pinch of a little camphor and cinnamon. An infusion can also be prepared by steeping 15 to 20 gm of the herb in 250 ml of boiling water, and taken thrice a day.
- Lily of the valley: this herb is one of the mostly recommended herbal treatments by doctors to patients with low blood pressure. The lily of the valley herb can also be used in treating other diseases that involve the heart. It helps to reduce the rate of one’s heart beat hence treating low blood pressure.
- Cinnamon: this herb improves peripheral circulation and normalizes a person’s blood pressure.
- Ginger: it plays a big role in improving digestive thus normalizes the blood pressure.
- Pepper (Piper nigrum): this is an energizing herb that brought back normal blood pressure.
- Cardamom: this is a general herbal tonic. It helps to normalize blood pressure caused by low vital energy.
- Hawthorn Berry: this herb opens the coronary arteries and improves blood circulation hence suitable for treating LBP.
- Ginkgo biloba: it improves blood circulation and in-turn normalizes blood pressure.
Diet for Low Blood Pressure
Healthy eating is always an effective method for battling diseases in the long term or even prevention altogether. Hypotension similarly can be controlled by:
- Eating small meals that are low in carbohydrates.
- Increasing intake of foods high in sodium.
- Drinking plenty of fluids and less of alcohols.
- Increasing intake of caffeinated products.
Prevention of Low Blood Pressure
- When one gets the feeling of low blood pressure you should immediately lie down or sit or raise feet high up above the level of the heart.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and drink plenty of water and other fluids.
- For those with chronic hypotension, always have an emergency medical number at hand. Call the doctor before you get into no position to handle what is happening around you. If the person that is experiencing hypotensive attack registers no breathing or pulse then a CPR is highly recommended.
- Standing for long periods of time is not recommended.
- Get up slowly after lying down.
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