The term hypotension refers to extremely low blood pressure – generally below 60 mm Hg for “low” or diastolic pressure and below 90 mm Hg for “high” or systolic pressure – which can lead to fainting episodes, weakness or even dizziness, increasing the risk of injury from a fall. In cases of severe hypotension, damage to the brain and heart can occur due to the reduced flow of oxygen in the body during a hypotensive event. It is, therefore, very important to make a timely (and correct) diagnosis and treatment of hypotension, in order to avoid health problems that will affect the person’s daily life.
Causes of Hypotension
Blood pressure fluctuates several times during the day and depends on many factors, such as:
- The person’s physical condition.
- Stress levels.
- Breathing rate.
- The medication he may be receiving.
- The posture of the body.
- How hydrated or dehydrated the body is.
It is worth noting at this point that all people with low blood pressure do not necessarily have hypotension. This is because every body is different. For example, a measurement that in one organism is considered low and causes obvious symptoms, in another organism may be considered normal and cause no health problems at all. The symptomatology, that is, is what ultimately determines whether someone has hypotension or not.
In addition to this, however, there are also specific diseases and conditions that can definitely significantly reduce blood pressure, such as:
- Dehydration (can be caused by abuse of diuretics, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, intense physical exercise and lack of sufficient fluid consumption to cover the body’s needs).
- Endocrine system disorders, such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency), parathyroid gland dysfunction, and in some cases diabetes.
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Disorders of the heart valves.
- Bradycardia (low number of heartbeats per minute).
- Sepsis (serious infection) which can also lead to septic shock.
- Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) to drugs, food, insects and other allergens that may sometimes threaten the person’s life.
- The lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid (vitamin B9), which causes anemia (reduced production of red blood cells) and a drop in blood pressure.
- Loss of blood either from internal bleeding, excessive flow during menstruation (period) or in case of serious injury.
Taking diuretics, antidepressants, drugs for Parkinson’s disease, B blockers, medication to treat erectile dysfunction and other drugs that mention hypotension as a possible side effect.
Symptoms of Hypotension
Hypotension attacks usually occur suddenly and are accompanied by fainting, dizziness, blurred vision, feeling tired, nausea and/or lack of concentration. In most cases, hypotension is an indication of an underlying health problem and should be properly and promptly diagnosed by the doctor.
If blood pressure levels are too low, then the person’s very life may be threatened and immediate medical attention should be given to avoid danger. Symptoms associated with these more extreme cases of hypotension include pale and cold skin, shallow and rapid breathing, inability to concentrate or mental confusion, and a weak heartbeat (especially when combined with tachycardia – fast heartbeat).
Treatment of hypotension
No specific treatment is required if the hypotension does not cause serious symptoms that affect the person’s daily life.
The causes of low blood pressure will also determine the therapeutic treatment of hypotension, in the event that the symptoms affect the person’s life. For example, if a person has hypotension due to side effects of the medication they are taking, then a simple change in the dosage or the medication itself will solve the problem.
Some suggestions for treating hypotension (always depending on the patient’s general state of health and age) are as follows:
Water consumption to avoid dehydration of the body which can “drop” the pressure.
- Increase salt consumption.
- Eating small and frequent meals to avoid postprandial hypotension.
- Avoiding alcohol to avoid dehydration of the body.
Avoiding sudden changes in body position (eg, from lying down to standing up suddenly), to avoid postural hypotension.
- The use of elastic orthopedic stockings (graded compression stockings) to prevent blood pooling in the legs and arms, which can lead to a hypotensive episode.
- Drinking a cup of coffee or tea when experiencing a hypotensive episode.