Hypotension

Hypotension woman

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of hypotension

Blood pressure is an important parameter that determines the overall health of an individual. Idiopathic as well as identifiable fluctuations of blood pressure can affect health and lifestyle. A common condition of abnormal blood pressure in the human body is “hypotension”, more commonly known as low blood pressure. As the name implies, it is a condition of reduced blood pressure, which after a certain limit may lead to extreme consequences. The condition is common in people of all age groups and genders.

In the recent past, there has been an alarming rise in emergency hospitalization due to low blood pressure. This has worried doctors and the health organizations in different countries.

 

What is hypotension?

Hypotension blood pressureHypotension or “Low blood pressure” is a condition of abnormally dropped blood pressure particularly in the arteries of the circulatory system. In proper medical terms, blood pressure is the collective pressure exerted by the circulating blood on all the blood vessels (arteries). Two types of blood pressure are there namely- Systolic and Diastolic pressure. The normal values of systolic and diastolic pressure are- 120 mm Hg and 80 mm Hg. A dip in the systolic pressure below 90 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure below 60 mm Hg is medically termed as low blood pressure. This variation differs according to the age of the individual. Numerous environmental, psychological physiological and dietary factors contribute to low blood pressure in an individual.

 

What are the main causes of hypotension?

Hypotension may result from a range of aetiological factors. These are listed below-

  • Low blood volume (Hypovolemia)
  • Dilated blood vessels
  • Hormonal variations (during menstruation or pregnancy)
  • Side-effects of certain broad-spectrum drugs (alpha and beta channel blockers)
  • Low hemoglobin (anemia)
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Endocrinal problems
  • Dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting
  • Low intake of fluid on a daily basis
  • Hemorrhage
  • Reduced cardiac output

 

What are the common signs and symptoms?

Hypotension womanHypotension typically presents as-

  • Breathlessness
  • Chest pain, tightness, and discomfort
  • Arrhythmia
  • Low-grade fever
  • Stiffness of neck
  • Headache and dizziness
  • General malaise
  • Upper back pain
  • Cough with phlegm
  • Persistent diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Indigestion (Dyspepsia)
  • Painful urination (Dysuria)
  • Allergic reactions of serious nature
  • Seizures, fits and convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blurred vision (temporary)
  • Fatigue
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Black discolouration of stools

 

Postural (orthostatic) hypotension

In this condition, an abrupt drop in the blood pressure occurs within 3 minutes of standing. This happens because the cardiovascular system fails to regulate the flow of blood to the lower extremities when they are in a vertical position. This condition is often characterized by syncopal episodes.

The main causes of Orthostatic hypotension are as follows-

Cardiovascular factors

  • Arrhythmia
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Pericarditis
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Advanced heart failure

Endocrinal factors

  • Diabetes
  • Post-gastrectomy dumping syndrome
  • Primary hypoaldosteronism
  • Phaeochromocytoma

Neurological factors

  • Vasospasm and vasovagal faints
  • Alcoholic neuropathy
  • Tabes dorsalis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spinal cord lesions
  • Syringomyelia
  • Alcoholic neuropathy
  • Sympathectomy

Other causes

  • Pernicious anaemia (due to Vitamin B12 deficiency)
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy
  • Being bed-ridden for a long time 

The main symptoms of Postural hypotension are 

  • Light-headedness
  • Feeling of fainting, falling or loss of balance
  • Blurred or tunnel vision
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Mental confusion
  • Feeling of an unexplained pressure on the shoulders and neck
  • Feeling hot and clammy
  • Sudden feeling of nausea
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

 

Acute hypotension

Acute hypotension presents as certain serious complications that may lead to cerebral, renal and myocardial damage due to an extreme shortage of oxygen. It manifests as any of the following types of shocks-

  • Septic shock
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Neurogenic shock

Some of the general causes of acute hypotension are as follows-

  • Vasodilation: Heat exposure, anti-hypertensive drugs
  • Broad-spectrum drugs: Anxiolytics, antidepressants, alcohol, narcotic analgesics
  • Cardiac problems: Aortic regurgitation, tamponade, myocardial infarction, arrhythmia
  • Autonomic nervous system failure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Micturition syncope

 

Chronic hypotension

It is usually seen in people having Addison’s disease, which is a kind of autoimmune adrenal failure. This is primarily marked by a drop in the systolic BP below 110 mm Hg.

 

Vasovagal faints

In this condition, pooling of venous blood occurs with a significant drop in the return of venous blood to the heart. The patient may experience sweating and pre-syncope before collapsing. A transient loss of consciousness occurs due to reduced cerebral perfusion.

 

Postprandial hypotension

This is seen in 40-80% of people who have autonomic dysfunction. The systolic arterial pressure drops below 90 mm Hg in this condition.

 

Diagnosis

The doctors recommend the following laboratory examinations to correctly detect the disease-

  • Blood pressure measurement (by sphygmomanometer or arterial catheter)
  • Measurement of mean arterial pressure
  • Tilt table test (for evaluating vasovagal syncope)
  • Full blood count
  • Fasting glucose
  • Pregnancy test
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Platelet count
  • Coagulation profile
  • Liver function test

 

Treatment & Prevention

Hypotension dietThe only way to treat hypotension is through medications and lifestyle and dietary changes. The most commonly prescribed drug is fludrocortisone that aims at treating orthostatic hypotension (low BP symptom of dizziness that appears on standing up too fast). Patients with chronic orthostatic hypotension are prescribed Midodrine.

Prevention of hypotension includes:

  • Drinking more water and replenishing the lost electrolytes.
  • The patient may be asked to slightly increase sodium intake through diet.
  • Wear compression stockings that are used to treat varicose veins.
  • Eat low carb foods and avoid eating heavy meals at one sitting.

 

 

Facts

  • The upper number in your BP reading indicates the systolic pressure which is pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts. The lower number is the diastolic pressure that is the measure of arterial pressure when the heart relaxes.
  • During pregnancy is somewhat normal for the blood pressure to dip a bit low. It usually is around 100/90.

Facts

  • Postural hypotension is the most common form of hypotension. This occurs when a person stands up or sits up suddenly.

Facts

  • The normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is around 110/75. As a person ages, it increases to somewhere close to 140/90 ( though this reading is also treated as slightly elevated by many doctors).

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Refrain from eating heavy meals at one go. Opt for eating smaller meals at regular intervals.
  • Compression stockings can help in regulating blood flow in the calves and feet area.
  • Drink more water. Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol causes dehydration which further causes hypotension.
Don'ts
  • Go overboard with your salt consumption, just because the opposite is done in case of countering high blood pressure. High salt intake could cause serious organ damage over time.
  • Move your body suddenly or too quickly. This will lead to dizziness and even nausea.
  • Consume a diet rich in carbohydrates.

 

 

 

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The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…