Low Blood Pressure’s a Good Thing, Right?
When somebody tells you that they have low blood pressure the thought that typically springs to mind is that this is a good thing – unlike high blood pressure (Hypertension) which is typically equated with poor diet, lack of activity and a sedentary lifestyle leading to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and a number of other potentially serious health issues.
Low blood pressure on the other hand tends to be seen in a favourable light and is often identified with a fit body, a healthy way of life and consequently a diminished risk of stroke and cardiovascular problems.
But in some cases low blood pressure, or Hypotension (to give it its medical name) can have a serious underlying condition which needs to be carefully managed.
What is Hypotension?
Most of us know that the conventionally accepted level for NORMAL blood pressure is 120/80, and once levels reach 140/90 the patient is considered HYPERTENSIVE and in need of some type of treatment to prevent possible health issues (as mentioned above) from developing.
With HYPOTENSION the blood pressure levels have to drop to 90/60 or below. In fact, if just the systolic (top number) is 90 or lower, or if just the diastolic (bottom number) is 60 or lower then in both cases this may be considered a low blood pressure reading.
Causes of Hypotension
Some people naturally have lower blood pressure than that which is considered to fall within the “normal” Blood Pressure Limits set by the Medical Establishment. And the good news is that it does not pose a problem for such people, as they remain largely asymptomatic, and thus Doctors do not treat this as a medical issue.
Then there are certain medical conditions which can cause low blood pressure, such as:
- Being pregnant
- Severe Dehydration
- Excessive loss of blood due to injury, both external and internal
- Severe infection
- Some allergic reactions
- Some cardiac conditions, such as Bradycardia (extremely low heart beat), heart valve damage and cardiac arrest.
- Some prescription medications, e.g. blood thinners, blood pressure medications and erectile dysfunction medications.
For a complete list of more unusual medical conditions which can cause Hypotension, click here
This is perhaps one of the most common types of low blood pressure: one which can bring with it some unpleasant, albeit usually short-lived symptoms. It can affect adults at any age given the right circumstances, however tends to be more common in older adults.
OH happens when a person who has been sitting, or lying down for a while, then goes to stand up. Gravity causes blood to pool in the legs at this point. In most people the brain detects this change of position and responds by increasing the heart rate and narrowing blood vessels so that enough blood will make its way back to the brain.
However, in some people this compensatory mechanism in the body fails to react, and as a result blood pressure can fall and produce dizziness, lightheadedness, and possibly also fainting.
Someone who naturally already has lower than normal blood pressure will be more susceptible to the side effects of this form of Hypotension, and thus needs to be very aware of its symptoms. The risk of falling and injury as a result of the symptoms mentioned above can be one serious complication.
How to Treat Low Blood Pressure – Naturally
There are some homemade remedies** which can be tried to increase blood pressure if you are suffering from some of the milder symptoms of hypotension. Some things that may work, for example:
- Increasing fluid intake – especially in hot or humid temperatures where dehydration can easily lead to low blood pressure
- Add a 1/2 tsp of salt (good quality such as Himalayan Pink Rock Salt, not the refined table salt) to a glass of water.
- Drink more coffee – This one can have both desirable and undesirable effects. Since coffee is known to raise BP it can be effective, but remember it is also a diuretic and thus has the potential to add to dehydration. So just make sure you top up with enough other fluids throughout the day.
- Adjust your Diet – There is a form of low blood pressure called postprandial hypotension whereby blood pressure drops after eating a meal. So try eating smaller amounts of meals more often during the day. Focus on eating healthy foods and cut out the processed carbs which will better regulate blood sugar levels, thereby helping blood pressure fluctuations.
- Prepare yourself to stand up – If lying down try stretching, or “flapping” your feet up and down and wiggling your toes. This will increase heart rate and blood circulation around the body. If sitting, try crossing and uncrossing your legs, or raise and lower your knees a few times.
- Wear Compression Stockings – These will help to prevent the pooling of blood in the lower legs whilst sitting. When worn during the day a mild compression stocking will improve circulation of blood flow through the veins which will help regulate your blood pressure
- Try Herbal Remedies – Some herbs have been known to increase blood pressure although this is mainly anecdotal and not fully supported by scientific research yet. Examples include Aniseed and Rosemary. A more comprehensive list of herbs (with some recipes) may be found here
- Increase Vitamin B-12 and Folate in your diet – Both have been shown to help regulate blood pressure and circulation generally. In fact a lack of both in your diet can lead to mild anemia which can in turn lead to low blood pressure.
- Give Yoga a go! – Practicing gentle yoga movements can do wonders for improving blood circulation and helping to balance your blood pressure. This link has some excellent Yoga poses for people dealing with low blood pressure.
**However, since Hypotension may be due to a variety of causes, it is first very important to consult with your Doctor just to ensure that any potentially serious underlying medical causes may be eliminated. This is also important if you are on any prescription medications which may be causing low blood pressure.
Whilst low blood pressure is generally not seen to be such a health concern as high blood pressure, it should also not be ignored, especially if its onset is at all sudden. Where it exists in a mild form with only occasional presentation of very mild symptoms, it is possible to find some natural solutions to help deal with these symptoms:
The Ultimate Guide to Low and Fluctuating Blood Pressure: Symptoms, causes and solutions
by Dr Dorothy Adamiak, ND
This book takes a detailed look at Hypotension (and some related conditions) and gives some very useful advice on how to manage low and fluctuating blood pressure.
I hope this article was useful and informative. I would love to hear from any of you who live with low blood pressure and what kinds of things are helping you deal with this often overlooked condition.