Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
When the heart pumps blood around the body, rather like a mechanical pump, it uses pressure to keep the blood flowing through the blood vessels. The blood exerts pressure on the walls of the blood vessels, and the level of this pressure is referred to as the blood pressure.
If the blood pressure is higher than the normal range, this puts extra strain on the heart and on the blood vessels and can cause problems such as kidney damage or stroke, even if there are no immediate symptoms of high blood pressure. For this reason, high blood pressure is considered a disease and would be treated even if it does not cause any problems in the day to day life of a person.
Low blood pressure, on the other hand, is treated differently in that it is not usually considered a problem unless it causes problems. Some people, especially very fit people, will have blood pressure that is much lower than average, but remain perfectly healthy and do not require any treatment and are not considered to have an illness.
Low blood pressure can be caused by a number of other factors including dehydration, medication, hormonal changes or anaemia. Generally, it is the underlying condition that will be treated rather than the blood pressure itself.
The most common symptom of low blood pressure is dizziness or lightheadedness. This is especially likely if someone stands up suddenly and the pressure is not enough to pump enough blood to the brain.
In more severe cases, this can cause fainting or collapse. However, dizziness or fainting can be caused by a number of different underlying problems and may not be related to low blood pressure at all.
If you suffer from either of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor who will be able to diagnose your condition, or send you for tests if he or she is unable to do so. This is especially important in the elderly who may be at greater risk of falls.
You can have your blood pressure checked in any McCabe’s Pharmacy branch, and we will let you know if your blood pressure is low. If this is not causing any symptoms, it may not be necessary to take any further steps.
If low blood pressure is causing problems, there may be a simple remedy such as drinking more water if dehydration is suspected or changing your diet to take smaller, more frequent meals. Regular exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
It may also help to avoid prolonged hot baths and showers, and to get up slowly from a sitting position or lying down. You may be referred to your GP if it is likely that your low blood pressure is caused by medication you are taking or if there may be an underlying problem such as heart failure or liver disease.
Please remember that you should not stop taking any prescription medication without checking with your doctor first.