Understanding the Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Learning about the main causes of low blood pressure, or hypotension, can be a great way to prevent developing this condition in the future. If you’ve already been diagnosed as having low blood pressure, or if your child has, then this knowledge will serve as a good tool to use in re-evaluating your lifestyle. Before we can understand the causes of low blood pressure, it’s a good idea to re-cap exactly what this condition is.
What is Low Blood Pressure?
To begin, blood pressure is the amount of force that your blood puts on the walls of the blood vessels (the interconnected network of tubing that transfer blood all over the body). The amount of pressure that your blood creates is measured in two numbers, the average being 120/80. The top number represents how much pressure is in the arteries when the heart is beating. The bottom number represents how much pressure is in the arteries when the heart is resting. An adult human’s blood pressure should run anywhere from 90/60 to 120/80. A low blood pressure reading may differ depending upon a person’s “normal” blood pressure. For instance, someone who typically runs at 120/80 is likely to start suffering from symptoms of hypotension if their blood pressure drops to 100/60 or lower.
Low blood pressure occurs when the body isn’t pumping enough blood through the blood vessels. You may be thinking, “Well isn’t it better to have low blood pressure than high blood pressure?” Unfortunately, they can both be bad but low blood pressure can produce instantaneous and troublesome symptoms. You see, one of the important functions of red blood cells is to transport oxygen to cells all over the body. Without adequate oxygen your muscles and eventually your organs would begin to weaken and they wouldn’t be able to perform as they ought to. The trouble with low blood pressure is that you can’t always go by the figures. Some people have naturally low pressure and don’t show any signs at all of having hypotension, especially those who are athletic or exceptionally healthy. However when low blood pressure figures are accompanied by symptoms, it could mean that a deeper issue is at hand.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
There are many different causes of low blood pressure and some are sudden and temporary while others are long lasting conditions. A common cause of low blood pressure in women is pregnancy. One of the reasons for this is that pregnancy can cause blood to pool in your legs which ultimately leaves less blood for the rest of the body. Dehydration is another factor that plays an important role in low blood pressure, both in pregnant women and the rest of the population. Without sufficient water the body is unable to maintain a regular level of blood flow which means that the body’s organs, muscles, and all other tissues will not receive enough oxygen.
Certain medications can also be responsible for a drop in blood pressure. Some of the most likely culprits include medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, certain mental disorders, and even diuretics. Other possibilities include hormonal changes that can occur through an under or overactive thyroid or frequent/heavy menstruation. Nutrient deficiencies are anther common factor attributing to low blood pressure. Iron and folic acid are notorious for causing a drop in blood pressure when the mineral levels aren’t high enough. That’s because these components are an essential component of hemoglobin—which is a major part of red blood cells. Without sufficient iron levels in the body there simply won’t be enough blood produced to transport oxygen all over the body.
Symptoms of Hypotension
There are a few different symptoms that can crop up when your blood pressure gets low. Primarily, you might start to feel dizzy or lightheaded. You might also feel as though you’re going to faint, which you may or may not actually do. Women who are pregnant might feel this dizzy feeling, especially upon standing or sitting up as the blood leaves the head and rushes downward. If this is the case and fainting spells occur often then it is recommended that mom-to-be sees her doctor about it. Difficulty concentrating is another symptom of low blood pressure and arises as the result of insufficient oxygen to the brain. When the brain—and indeed any muscle—doesn’t have enough energy to perform nominal tasks, it begins to slow and eventually shut down. By the same reasoning, you might also feel sluggish, fatigued, and tired most of the time as a result of your muscles being unable to meet everyday demands. Pale skin may be another sign of hypotension as there is less blood being transported through the blood vessels thus taking away the skin’s natural pinkish tint that most of us have.
How to Avoid Low Blood Pressure
In order to prevent this condition, the best action is to avoid the causes of low blood pressure. When hypotension is related to pregnancy and is not severe, most of the time the mother will be advised to sit, stand, and lay down slowly in order to help the body acclimate to the change in altitude. Hypotension should go away soon after the baby is born. If a mineral deficiency is at work then one could easily remedy the situation by taking a daily supplement or adding more mineral-rich foods to their diet. If the suspect is dehydration then it would be recommended to start drinking more water and to take a store-bought electrolyte supplement.
One of the more serious causes of low blood pressure is heart failure. This is a very serious condition that can lead to a heart attack. If you suffer from low blood pressure and begin to feel chest pains then you should see your doctor as soon as possible as this could be an early warning sign of a heart attack.