Hypotension (low blood pressure)


Chest | Cardiology | Hypotension (low blood pressure) (Disease)


Description

Low blood pressure (hypotension) is pressure so low it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidney, the organs do not function normally and may be temporarily or permanently damaged.

Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure is defined primarily by signs and symptoms of low blood flow and not by a specific blood pressure number. Some individuals routinely may have blood pressures of 90/50 with no symptoms and therefore do not have low blood pressure. However, others who normally have higher blood pressures may develop symptoms of low blood pressure if their blood pressure drops to 100/60.

The range of systolic blood pressure for most healthy adults falls between 90 and 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal diastolic blood pressure ranges between 60 and 80 mm Hg. Current guidelines define normal blood pressure range as lower than 120/80.

Causes and Risk factors

Conditions that reduce the volume of blood, reduce cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped by the heart), and medications are frequent reasons for low blood pressure: dehydration, moderate or severe bleeding, severe inflammation of organs inside the body, weakened heart muscle, pericarditis, pulmonary embolism, a slow heart rate (bradycardia). Some medications can cause a low blood pressure too.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If its not clear whats causing low blood pressure or no effective treatment exists, the goal is to raise your blood pressure and reduce signs and symptoms. Depending on your age, health status and the type of low blood pressure you have, you can do this in several ways: use more salt, drink more water, wear compression stockings, medications (example: the drug fludrocortisone is often used to treat this form of low blood pressure. This drug helps boost your blood volume, which raises blood pressure). ...