Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Today, we’ll talk about the causes of low blood pressure. Heart beat, temperature, rate of breathing and blood pressure are vital signs of life. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. The pressure of blood circulated by the heart is regulated by the response of arteries to the blood flow.
Blood pressure is represented as the ratio of systolic/diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure represents the pressure inside arteries when the heart contracts and pumps blood. Diastolic pressure is the pressure inside arteries when heart relaxes after contracting.
Various Causes of Low Blood Pressure
The normal range of systolic pressure lies in the range of 90-120 mm/Hg for healthy adults, and diastolic pressure ideal range is 60-80 mm/Hg. If the lower blood pressure is too low, the oxygen and nutrients supply to brain and other vital organs is not adequate, resulting in improper functioning, and in certain cases, can cause permanent damage of the organs. The low blood pressure is defined by signs and symptoms associated with low blood supply.
1. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of low blood pressure. Dehydration is common among the people suffering from prolonged diarrhea and vomiting. If the water is not replenished, large amounts of water is lost from the body due to vomiting and diarrhea. Heat exhaustion, excessive sweating and fever are other causes of dehydration.
2. Another cause of low blood pressure is moderate or severe bleeding, as it can rapidly deplete the blood from the body. Bleeding can be caused due to trauma, gastrointestinal abnormalities, or surgical complications. At times, the bleeding can be so rapid or severe that it can cause shock or even death.
3. Severe inflammation of internal organs, such as acute pancreatitis can also be the cause of low blood pressure. The blood pressure can also drop due to weakened heart muscles, pericarditis, pulmonary embolism, slow heart rate, or abnormally fast heart rate.
4. There are certain medications that can be the cause of low blood pressure. These medications include beta blockers, calcium channel brokers and digoxin.
5. Vasovagal reaction is another cause of low blood pressure, and is a condition where a normal person develops the slow heart rate, low blood pressure and at times, fainting. The reaction is caused due to emotion of pain or fear such as starting the intravenous infusion, having blood drawn or due to gastrointestinal upset.
6. Some of the other causes of low blood pressure include postural hypotension, micturition syncope, adrenal insufficiency, septicemia and anaphylaxis.
There are many dangers of low blood pressure if it drops below a certain level. When the blood pressure drops, the sudden change can cause the interruption in the supply of the blood to the heart, brain and kidneys, and can prove fatal.
Your doctor will use a blood pressure test to diagnose low blood pressure. Other tests may include blood, urine, or imaging tests and a tilt table test if you faint often. You may not need treatment for low blood pressure. Depending on your signs and symptoms, treatment may include drinking more fluids, taking medicines to raise your blood pressure, or adjusting medicines that cause low blood pressure. Recommended lifestyle changes include changing what and how you eat and how you sit and stand up. Your doctor may also recommend compression stockings if you have to stand for long periods.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
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PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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