What Is Blood Pressure?
|What Is Low Blood Pressure?
If a woman consistently has blood pressure readings which are lower than 'normal', she is said to have low blood pressure. A normal reading is considered less than 120/80 mm Hg. If this figure fall to less than 90/60 mm Hg and stays there consistently, the person is said to have low blood pressure. The medical term is hypotension, which is the opposite to hypertension (high blood pressure). In practice, unless it causes serious symptoms, low blood pressure is not considered a problem. In fact for people who are in good shape and exercise regularly, low blood pressure is a sign of good health. The only obvious symptom they might have is when they stand up have a wave of dizziness.
In general, low blood pressure which is not caused by an underlying condition is a good thing. This is because it lowers a person's stroke risk factors, as well as their risk factors for heart disease and kidney problems. It usually occurs in people with an ideal body weight who do not smoke, as well as athletes and people who exercise regularly. Occasionally it can be a side effect of blood pressure drugs or antidepressants and it can also occur in people with diabetes. The only time you need to worry is when your blood pressure drops to the point where it causes serious side effects like fainting and heart disorders. If hypotension becomes severe enough it ends up reducing blood flow to vital organs in the body so they are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This can cause the body to go into a life-threatening state of shock. Or it can cause chest pain in women (similar to angina) or even a heart attack. Severe hypotension is always caused by an underlying illness - for example thyroid disease or as the result of a previous heart attack.
Postural (Orthostatic) Hypotension
When To See A Doctor
In most cases if you have consistently low readings but feel fine, your doctor is not likely to recommend any treatment. Even occasional dizzy spells are not seen a problem but could just be the result of standing up too quickly, spending too much time in a hot bath or sun bathing. The only time to worry is if symptoms become more frequent and severe.
In the vast majority of cases there are no 'causes'. As we mentioned earlier, it may well just be a sign of good fitness and health levels. However, if it is not normal for you to have low blood pressure, and you suddenly start to develop it consistently, other medical conditions may be a factor. These include:
Pregnancy: It is usual for blood pressure to fall in pregnant women by as much as 10/10 mm Hg. This is quite normal and usually returns to previous levels after delivery. Doctors tend to be more concerned about high blood pressure during pregnancy. See also, will pregnancy raise my blood pressure?
Your doctor will take a blood pressure reading. If this reading is consistently low on two or more occasions he will diagnose low blood pressure. In most cases no further tests will be necessary unless the doctor suspects an underlying disorder. If he does, he might order:
In most instances symptoms are non-existent or mild and no treatment is required. If symptoms are severe, doctors will work to identify the underlying cause and treat it directly. If the problem is caused by medications, treatment involves changing the prescription or stopping it completely. If there is no obvious cause and you are suffering from side effects, other options are:
|Related Articles on Hypotension
For more on cardiovascular problems, see the following:
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