Low blood pressure (hypotension) is usually harmless and not a sign of serious illness. Typical complaints here are mostly cold feet and hands, dizziness and tiredness. Sometimes it can also lead to fainting or impaired consciousness. Nevertheless, you should consult a doctor to clarify all eventualities. In addition, the doctor can give valuable advice on what you can do to combat low blood pressure yourself. Distinguish low blood pressure from low heart rate.
What is low blood pressure (hypotension)?
Low blood pressure (medically hypotension) is defined as a systolic arterial blood pressure below 100 mmHg, which is determined by measuring blood pressure on the upper arm. The lower value (i.e. the diastolic) is not important for the diagnosis. In Germany, significantly more women are affected than men. Young and slim women in particular suffer from what is known as essential or idiopathic hypotension. See definitionexplorer for Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Definitions.
There is no organic or other comprehensible cause. However, every low blood pressure should be clarified, as dangerous diseases can also hide behind it. A thorough questioning (anamnesis) is often helpful. Long-term blood pressure measurements over 24 hours, orthostatic tests (reaction of blood pressure to standing up quickly, e.g. tilting table or Schellong test) and blood tests (e.g. representatives of the adrenal cortex function, blood salts and certain hormones) are often helpful) accomplished.
As a rule, the cause of low blood pressure is idiopathic, i.e. not concretely identifiable. A genetic and constitutional cause (tall stature, slim habitus, weak vascular system) is suspected. Athletes also have a physiologically reduced blood pressure due to the heart’s adaptation processes. Disorders in the fluid balance (e.g. due to insufficient intake, diarrhea, vomiting or medication, including “water tablets” and antihypertensives) or a low-salt diet (since salt binds water) also have a positive effect.
Secondary hypotension (i.e. low blood pressure due to another disease) occurs, for example, in the case of pronounced cardiac insufficiency (cardiac insufficiency), since the blood can no longer be pumped as effectively. There are many different causes of cardiac insufficiency, the most common being coronary artery disease (disruption of the blood flow in the heart up to a heart attack), cardiac arrhythmia and pulmonary embolism. Metabolic diseases (e.g. hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus) can also lead to low blood pressure.
Likewise, any type of shock causes a threatening hypotension (e.g. in the case of allergies, bleeding or blood poisoning), usually because the vessels are widened and the blood literally sinks. Rarer are the (usually autoimmune-related) adrenal insufficiency (also Addison’s disease) and neurological diseases (especially Parkinson ‘s disease and multiple sclerosis) causative.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A very common symptom of low blood pressure is dizziness. The brain is not supplied with enough blood and so ringing in the ears, tiredness and blurred vision can also occur. That is, it becomes black before the eyes, or one sees “asterisks”. In the case of impaired consciousness or fainting, it becomes dangerous if there is a risk of falling or if the person drives a car while their blood pressure is far too low. The body tries to fight against the lack of blood circulation, which increases the pulse.
Rapidly changing position from lying to standing can also lead to low blood pressure. The blood pools in the legs and the body needs some time to balance the blood pressure again. Headaches can have many causes, but they can also be another sign of hypotension, caused by insufficient blood flow in the head.
Cold hands and feet or a feeling of tightness in the chest are also referred to as low blood pressure, since the blood is directed to the heart or brain and so other parts of the body are less supplied. Even people who don’t normally have problems with low blood pressure can be affected on hot days as the body sweats and loses a lot of fluids. Of course, it helps to drink a lot to balance the fluid balance.
course of the disease
Hypotension is often completely symptom-free. If the low blood pressure is noticed, then usually in the form of weakness, coldness, paleness and dizziness or “going black” in front of the eyes with a tendency to faint (syncope). These symptoms are usually annoying but harmless.
Critical are only the consequences of possible falls, in which (especially in older people) serious injuries are possible.
To the advantage of people with low blood pressure, many studies have shown that hypotension is more health-promoting and can even increase life expectancy.
Low blood pressure in itself is usually not dangerous, although its symptoms can be dramatic. Hypotension is usually hereditary and harmless. However, it is often a symptom of an underlying disease. However, most complications associated with hypotension are not the result of low blood pressure, but result from the course of the underlying disease.
Hypotension occurs, among other things, in heart disease, venous insufficiency, hormone disorders or severe fluid loss in various diseases. Although the low blood pressure causes symptoms such as dizziness, ringing in the ears, flickering eyes or even shortness of breath, these usually run their course without complications. Severe dizzy spells can sometimes lead to falls, which in unfavorable cases can lead to injuries.
In addition to dizziness, chronic low blood pressure is also accompanied by permanent tiredness. Tiredness and lack of concentration are often the cause of general poor performance. In the long term, this can lead to depression. The frequent sleep disturbances that can cause chronic organic or mental illnesses in the long term are also dangerous.
Although there are generally no immediate complications associated with low blood pressure, older and pre-existing patients are at greater risk of the heart and brain becoming starved of blood. The risk of falls and injuries from falls (broken bones) also increases with age.
When should you go to the doctor?
Basically, low blood pressure is not a worrying condition. With this blood pressure, the affected person can normally live their life independently and without serious complications. By consuming caffeine-containing products and regularly participating in sporting activities, there is an opportunity to stimulate blood circulation. Especially after waking up, targeted training has a stimulating effect on blood pressure. Spicy meals are also helpful.
A doctor’s visit is necessary if the known measures of self-help do not work and the low blood pressure becomes life-threatening. In the case of high levels of suffering or discomfort, consultation with a doctor can be sought. If there is severe tiredness, rapid exhaustion or a lack of attention, there is a need for action. If everyday obligations cannot be carried out sufficiently or if the general quality of life decreases, the inconveniences should be discussed with a doctor.
If interpersonal conflict situations or professional quarrels arise due to the reduced drive, a doctor may be able to remedy the situation with his options. If the person concerned experiences increased feelings of dizziness or if the risk of an accident increases in everyday life, a doctor should be consulted. In the case of falls, unsteady gait and low physical and mental resilience, it is advisable to seek the help of a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
As a rule, low blood pressure is treated with general measures. Regular sport (in moderate amounts, e.g. swimming or gymnastics), compression treatment (e.g. with stockings, because the pressure on the veins makes more volume available to the arterial blood system) or contrast showers (always ending with cold water) are easy and integrate effectively into everyday life.
Since salt retains more water in the body and can also increase volume, a salt-rich diet is recommended. Either the food can be enriched with salt or, for example, broth can be drunk. If these measures are unsuccessful, medication (so-called sympathomimetics) can also be used. However, these should be last in the treatment, as the effectiveness of the lifestyle changes is high and the drugs have not inconsiderable side effects.
In contrast to hypertension, hypotension does not cause any health damage. Nevertheless, many people find the symptoms of low blood pressure distressing. That’s why aftercare is important to restore life.
In order to improve well-being, it is advisable to start each mobilization to a different level carefully. This means that when you get up from a seated position, first activate the muscle pump in your calves and then slowly stand up. Especially when getting up from a lying position, it is recommended to gradually straighten yourself up over a short period of sitting.
Since most activities today are performed sitting or standing, those affected should wear class two orthopedic compression stockings. At night, it is helpful for many sufferers to position their legs slightly elevated. As a result, more blood returns from the lower extremities and regulates blood pressure within the normal range. As a result, many people are not only able to sleep better, but also get up faster.
Targeted exercise units of around 30 to 60 minutes around three days a week can strengthen the blood vessels and normalize blood pressure. A minimum daily intake of two liters of liquid also has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.
Many sufferers also report a benefit from cardiovascular training. Contrast showers, massages and climatic stimuli such as a soft sauna and ice pool strengthen the veins and can permanently raise blood pressure to a comfortable level.
Outlook & Forecast
Low blood pressure is usually associated with a good prognosis for the patient. There are two reasons for this. On the one hand, hypertension is harmless in many cases and has no pathological value. Adolescents or young women in particular often have low blood pressure, which often even resolves spontaneously.
There are often reasons for low blood pressure during puberty or menopause that are hormonal and do not last long-term. Even if the hypotension occurs in people who are very sensitive to the weather in this context, the appearance often normalizes on its own without the affected person having to take any special measures.
The second reason for the good prognosis with regard to low blood pressure is that the patient can often significantly influence his hypotension by behavioral changes in everyday life. This includes exercise and drinking enough water, which is often enough on its own to raise low blood pressure back to a normal level.
Also with regard to possible consequences, hypotension is usually associated with an exceptionally good prognosis. While high blood pressure can be associated with a host of complications for the cardiovascular system, the risk of injury for the hypotensive person is almost entirely in the event of fainting. Otherwise, however, the prospects for patients with low blood pressure are usually very good.
You can do that yourself
Various measures can be taken to stimulate blood pressure without further medical attention. Sporting activities and targeted training to stimulate the circulation are particularly helpful. The movement of the fingers, hands and feet leads to better blood circulation and an increase in blood pressure. The affected person can carry out short exercise sequences several times a day without great effort, in which he alternately tenses and relaxes the muscles of the fingers and toes.
In addition, regular sporting activities should always be carried out. This improves general well-being and promotes circulatory activity. However, overuse and excessive physical activity should be avoided. Running, swimming, cycling or various ball sports increase blood pressure. The frequency and intensity of the selected sports should be based on the current physical conditions so that no further illnesses occur.
There is also the possibility of stimulating the circulation by consuming food and luxury foods. Products containing caffeine or meals with hot spices promote heart activity. Depending on taste and gusto, the existing eating habits can be changed. Especially at the beginning of the day or in the further course of the day, the consumption of caffeinated foods is recommended. Before going to sleep, however, it should be set in good time. If you eat spicy food, make sure you drink enough fluids afterwards.