Blood Pressure refers to the force which the blood exerts on the blood vessels during circulation. It occurs when the heart tries to pump blood into the arteries for circulation to other parts of the body. The rate at which the heart pumps blood into the arteries and the response of the arteries generates what is referred to as blood pressure.
Some people suffer from high blood pressure, a condition whereby the force of blood pumping against the arteries becomes too high and may eventually lead to other serious health complications. However, for some people, the opposite is the case. These set of people suffer from a condition known as low blood pressure.
What is Low Blood Pressure?
Low Blood Pressure is a condition whereby the blood pressure becomes lower than normal. This situation is also known as Hypo-tension. Normal blood pressure levels in human beings is put at between 120/80 and 140/90. This level is considered optimal and healthy but when the blood pressure drops to a level of 90/60 or lower, the patient may be suffering from low blood pressure.
What Causes Low Blood Pressure?
Low blood pressure may be caused by medications, low volume of blood in the body or some underlying medical conditions. Some of the most common causes of low blood pressure include:
- Severe Inflammation: Inflammation of the organs may lead to low blood pressure. An example is acute Pancreatitis, a condition which affects the abdominal glands. Acute Pancreatitis may cause fluids to leave the blood vessels to get into the inflamed tissues and abdominal cavity, thereby reducing the volume of blood in the body.
- Bleeding: Moderate or severe bleeding can also lead to low blood pressure. When a person bleeds, their blood supply becomes depleted thereby leading to low blood pressure and sometimes, death. Examples of cases where bleeding can lead to hypotension include surgical complications, ruptured aortic aneurysm, trauma and gastrointestinal abnormalities.
- Dehydration: Activities or practices which causes excessive loss of body fluid or causes the body to lose more fluid than it gains, may eventually cause low blood pressure.
- Medication: There are some medications which have low blood pressure as a side effect. Some examples of medications that fall into this category include; High blood pressure medications, Medications prescribed for heart problems e.g. Beta Blockers, Medications prescribed for Prostate gland problems and Anti-depressants
- Neurological Disorders: Any disease that affects the nerves is regarded as a neurological disorder and such disorders may also cause low blood pressure. A part of the nervous system known as the autonomous nervous system is responsible for controlling some major functions in the body such as digestion, sweating as well as expansion and contraction of the nervous system. When the autonomous nervous becomes affected however, it may be unable to control the blood vessels, which may subsequently lead to low blood pressure.
- Hormonal Disorder: Some diseases that affects the hormones in the body may also lead to low blood pressure. For instance, a person who suffers from Addison’s disease may develop low blood pressure because Addison’s disease causes a damage of the adrenal glands which helps to balance the levels of salt and water in the body.
- Septic Shock: Septic Shock occurs when there is a bacterial attack on the walls of the small blood vessels leading to a leak of fluid from the blood vessels to surrounding tissues eventually causing a drop in blood pressure in the body.
- Allergic Reaction: This is known as Anaphylaxis, a condition whereby a person suffers from a severe allergic reaction to food, medication or poison. Anaphylaxis may lead to low blood pressure if not treated immediately.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Insufficient consumption of some essential vitamins like Vitamin B-12 and folic acid might cause anemia, which may eventually lead to low blood pressure.
- Heart Problem: Any heart condition which interferes with the heart’s ability to circulate blood effectively may also cause low blood pressure.
- Pregnancy: It is not uncommon for some pregnant women to experience a drop in blood pressure during the first few weeks of their pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure
If there are no other symptoms, then low blood pressure itself is usually not much of a problem but if any of the following symptoms accompany a significant drop in blood pressure, then there is a need to consult a doctor as untreated low blood pressure with the following symptoms may be dangerous:
- Dehydration: Serious dehydration and unusual thirst is one of the symptoms of high blood pressure however, dehydration may also occur in other cases totally unrelated to high blood pressure.
- Lightheadedness: Patients with low blood pressure may also experience dizziness and lightheadedness which may sometimes lead to fain5ting.
- Lack of concentration
- Blurred vision
- Cold or Pale Skin
- Rapid or Shallow Breathing
Risks and Complications of Low Blood Pressure
- Unconsciousness: If a person suffering from any of the above mentioned symptoms along with low blood pressure fails to receve immediate medical attention, they may become unconscious.
- Damage of Organs: Most of the organs in the body, especially the brain and the heart, need regular supply of oxygen provided by the blood. When low blood pressure occurs, these organs may not get enough oxygen and may become damaged.
Treatment of Low Blood Pressure
Treatment of low blood pressure depends on the causes. If a person develops low blood pressure as a result of another medical condition, it is most likely that the blood pressure would become regulated when the underlying condition is treated. However, here are some few tips that may help control low blood pressure:
- Increase intake of water to prevent dehydration.
- Reduce or eliminate consumption of alcohol as excessive intake of alcohol could cause dehydration.
- Wear compression stockings to improve flow of blood in the body and prevent blood from pooling in the lower limb area.
- Talk to a doctor immediately.