Hypotension

What is hypotension?

Hypotension is a condition in which the blood pressure falls to a level that is lower than usual. While most people do strive to decrease their blood pressure, when it goes too low, complications can arise. These include dizziness and fainting resulting from insufficient supply of blood to the brain.

Doctors do use a numerical guidelines: blood pressure is generally considered to be low if the systolic reading (the top number) is below 90, or the diastolic reading (the bottom number) is below 60. However, it is important to note that blood pressure varies greatly from one person to another. For instance, athletes and non-smokers tend to have lower blood pressure than those who smoke or have sedentary lifestyles. An office worker who is diagnosed with low blood pressure might have the same blood pressure readings as a professional athlete in a good health.

 

Symptoms

Unlike hypertension which appears over a long period, hypotension tends to result from a sudden drop in blood pressure. This drop is usually accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness, blurred vision or fainting
  • Sudden tiredness and an inability to focus
  • Clammy skin, shallow breathing and nausea
  • A feeling of dehydration
  • A sudden change in mood

 

What causes hypotension?

Blood pressure changes naturally throughout the day, depending on what the individual is doing. Blood pressure is at its lowest during periods of deep sleep, and at its highest during exercise. The measurement typically used by health professionals is the blood pressure when the individual is awake but in a resting state.

 

Some factors that can cause low blood pressure include the following:

  •  Pregnancy: a pregnant woman has a much larger circulatory system, resulting in lower blood pressure. This resolves itself when the pregnancy is over.
  •  Medical conditions: conditions like parathyroid disease, diabetes and low blood sugar can trigger hypotension.
  • Dehydration: people who are dehydrated lose more fluids than they take in, resulting in low blood pressure. In severe cases, blood pressure can fall to levels that result in the body being deprived of oxygen. This is a potentially life-threatening complication.
  • Physical trauma: blood loss, anaphylaxis and internal infections can all cause blood pressure to drop.
  • Medication: some medications can result in hypotension, including certain antidepressants, diuretics and drugs for Parkinson’s disease.

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