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Low Blood Pressure - Is It A Problem?

Jan 29, 2008
Low blood pressure, known as hypotension, means that the pressure of blood circulating around your body is lower than normal or lower than expected given the environmental conditions.

Hypotension, however, is a relative term - a person can have low blood pressure compared to other people who have similar physical characteristics, but may still be perfectly healthy.

Low blood pressure is only a problem if it has a negative effect on your body. For example, any of your vital organs, particularly your brain, can become starved of oxygen and nutrients if the blood pressure serving that vital organ is too low for that particular individual.

What are the symptoms of hypotension?

Significant blood loss can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, resulting in the body going into a state of shock. The most dramatic effect of sudden hypotension is unconsciousness. However, low blood pressure usually develops over time.

Some of the most common symptoms are:

* light-headedness, when standing from a sitting or lying position;
* unsteadiness;
* dizziness;
* blurred vision;
* unusual fatigue;
* fainting.

What are the causes of hypotension?

Low blood pressure can result from one or more of many different causes including:

* emotional stress, fear, or pain (these are the most common causes of fainting);
* dehydration, which reduces blood volume;
* your body's reaction to heat, which is to shunt blood into the vessels of the skin,leading to dehydration;
* blood donation which reduces your blood volume;
* internal bleeding, such as a perforated stomach ulcer;
* severe blood loss from trauma, such as a road accident or deep cut;
* pregnancy;
* some medications for high blood pressure which lower blood pressure too far;
* diuretics, which produce fluid loss and these can lead to loss of blood volume;
* some medications for depression;
* some medications for certain heart conditions;
* allergic reaction to certain drugs or chemicals;
* some forms of infection, such as toxic shock syndrome.
* heart disease, which can affect the pumping action of the heart muscle;
* some nervous system disorders, such as Parkinson's disease;
* Addison's disease in which the adrenal glands fail to produce sufficient hormones critical to maintaining blood pressure.

Many people have experienced the temporary effects of low blood pressure when standing suddenly upright from a sitting or lying position. Usually the blood vessels in your body respond to this sudden increase in gravity by constricting, thus increasing your blood pressure.

If however, the blood vessels don't adjust to compensate for the increased gravity effects of your standing position and allow the blood pressure to drop, this results in a feeling of light-headedness, or if severe enough, dizziness or fainting.

What can be done about Hypotension?

Treatment for hypotension depends on the specific cause or causes. For example,the dosages of existing medications may need to be altered or a bleeding stomach ulcer surgically repaired. If no particular cause can be found, drugs may be used to raise blood pressure.

While hypotension - low blood pressure - can have significant effects on your health, these are often temporary and, once the cause has been determined, can usually be readily treated.

Hypotension has far less potential to damage your health than does hypertension - high blood pressure.

However, if you believe that persistent low blood pressure is affecting your health you should seek medical attention to determine the cause and take your physician/s recommended steps to improve your blood pressure.
About the Author
John Vanse has a network of health related sites. These sites, and more information about blood pressure, can be accessed through The Better Health Guide
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