Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Today, we’ll talk about low blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force with which the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries. Each time the heart beats, it pumps the blood into arteries, and blood pressure is highest when heart is pumping the blood. This is known as systolic pressure. Between the beats, the heart is at rest and the blood pressure falls, this is known as diastolic pressure. Both of these pressures are important for the body.
The normal range for blood pressure is 120/80, and if your blood pressure reading is 90/60, you have low blood pressure. Some people suffer from low blood pressure all the time, and for some people, the blood pressure falls due to a medical condition or some event. Low blood pressure is a problem if it causes fainting, dizziness or in rare cases, shock.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Blood pressure varies from person to person, depending on sex, race, age and environment. People who exercise regularly and athletes tend to have low blood pressure, and their heart rate is slower. In rare instances, it can be a sign of a serious or life-threatening disorder.
There are many conditions that can cause low blood pressure. During pregnancy, the circulatory system of the woman expands rapidly, and blood pressure tends to drop by 5-15 points. Some heart conditions such as heart valve problems, low heart rate, and heart failure also lead to low blood pressure, as these conditions prevent the body from circulating enough blood.
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can also cause low blood pressure. In some cases, diabetes, low blood sugar, and adrenal insufficiency can also cause blood pressure to fall. Dehydration, severe infection, blood loss, lack of nutrients in the diet, and severe allergic reactions can also cause low blood pressure.
There are certain medications such as diuretics, beta blockers, alpha blockers, sildenafil, and few anti-depressants that can cause low blood pressure.
Some of the most common symptoms of low blood pressure include dizziness, lack of concentration, fainting, nausea, blurred vision, rapid and shallow breathing, cold and pale skin, depression, thirst and fatigue. In many cases, low blood pressure is not a cause of concern, however if you often feel the symptoms of hypotension, it can be an indication of other underlying health problem.
Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Using more salt, wearing compression stocking, drinking more water, and taking medications are few things that you can do to raise you blood pressure. A drug like fludrocortisone is used to treat the drop in blood pressure when you stand up. It boosts the blood volume, raising blood pressure. To treat low blood pressure, you can make some lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, drinking more water, changing the body positions slowly, following a healthy diet, and eating small, low carbohydrate meals throughout the day.
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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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