Low blood pressure, which is typically characterised by a blood pressure reading below 90/60 mm mercury, is also referred to as hypotension. While many people are aware of the dangers of high blood pressure, few understand the implications low blood pressure can have on their health.
In this blog, we explore what low blood pressure is, how dangerous it is, and the treatment options available.
What is low blood pressure?
Blood pressure represents the force exerted by your heart to circulate blood throughout your body. It is measured using two numbers in millimetres of mercury. The systolic (top) number indicates the pressure in your arteries during each heartbeat, while the diastolic (bottom) number represents the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.
Low blood pressure can be a standalone condition, or a symptom of other health issues. Sometimes, it may not present any symptoms, but if it does, medical attention may be needed. When blood pressure decreases, the body attempts to compensate by either increasing the heart rate or narrowing the blood vessels. Symptoms arise when the body is unable to counterbalance the decline in blood pressure.
Some of the symptoms you might experience include dizziness, light-headedness, or even fainting. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, blurred or distorted vision, and rapid, shallow breathing. Fatigue, weakness, and feelings of sluggishness or lethargy are common, as well as confusion or difficulty concentrating. In some cases, agitation or other unusual behavioural changes may be observed.
Is low blood pressure dangerous?
Low blood pressure may indicate the presence of severe heart, endocrine, or neurological issues. When not addressed, vital organs such as the brain might be deprived of the necessary oxygen and nutrients to keep them functioning correctly. In extreme cases this can lead to shock, which is a potentially fatal condition.
However, there are ways to control low blood pressure to eliminate the risk of it developing into something more sinister.
How is low blood pressure treated?
To treat low blood pressure, it’s important to identify the underlying cause. For example, if it results from an injury and blood loss, the condition can be resolved by repairing the injury and replenishing the lost blood, such as through a blood transfusion. If the injury repair holds, the blood pressure will return to normal.
If medications are affecting the blood pressure, your healthcare provider might adjust the dosage or discontinue the medication altogether. Treatment options can vary widely, from simple IV fluids and antibiotics to surgery, or even a heart transplant. You may also be advised to change your diet, such as increasing your salt intake.
If you are concerned about low blood pressure or are struggling with symptoms, book an appointment with leading cardiologist, Dr Konrad Grosser. He can organise tests to diagnose the underlying cause of your hypotension, and will recommend ways to manage your condition and treatments that can help to correct it.