Low blood pressure, or hypotension in medical parlance, is defined as the systolic blood pressure reading of 90 mm Hg or less or diastolic blood pressure reading of 60 mm Hg or less.
Some of the causes of low blood pressure include: heart disorders such as problems with heart valves, heart attack, heart failure and very low heart rate, endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, low blood sugar, and adrenal insufficiency, dehydration, loss of blood, severe infection affecting the whole body, severe allergic reaction to certain foods, medicines, latex etc, nutrient deficiency (usually vitamin B12 and folate deficiency causes anemia and low blood pressure) and pregnancy. There are certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can also cause low blood pressure. Some of these drugs include anti-hypertensives such as diuretics, and alpha and beta blockers, drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, tricyclic antidepressants, and Viagra.
Low blood pressure is manifested as various signs and symptoms including: dizziness and faintness, nausea, fatigue, blurring of vision, increased thirst, rapid breathing, and cold skin and difficulty to concentrate. Low blood pressure can lead to life threatening complications if not treated promptly.
How to Raise Blood Pressure
Individuals who do not have any symptoms due to low blood pressure or have only mild symptoms that go away after some time, do not usually require treatment. However, if signs and symptoms of low blood pressure are present then the treatment is best done on the basis of the underlying cause.
Medical options can be the first thing pops up people's mind when thinking about how to raise blood pressure, including treat the potential cause and take some medications.
1. Treat underlying causes. Doctors address the health disorder such as dehydration, heart problem, hypothyroidism etc that is causing low blood pressure and its symptoms. For example, in cases of dehydration doctors restore the fluid volume and electrolyte balance by giving intravenous fluids; when there is significant amount of blood loss, then the cause of bleeding is found and measures are taken to stop bleeding and also the lost blood is restored by intravenous blood transfusion; nutritional deficiency cases are treated with appropriate supplement replacement therapy; similarly appropriate therapy is given for all the diseases including heart failure, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia etc and it automatically treats the problem of low blood pressure.
2. Use medications. Certain medications are also given to treat the problem of low blood pressure that happens when a person stands from a lying or sitting position, also known as orthostatic hypotension. These medicines are given either alone or in combination. Some of these medicines include: Fludrocortisone, which is often used alone to treat orthostatic hypotension; it works by increasing the blood volume, thereby, raising blood pressure; Midodrine (Orvaten, Proamatine), which is often used to treat chronic orthostatic hypotension; it works by preventing the expansion of blood vessels, thereby, raising your blood pressure.
Besides medical treatments, there are several natural remedies help to figure out the issse: how to raise blood pressure.
1. Get more salt. It is recommended to raise the amount of salt in your diet as sodium is known to cause a dramatic increase in blood pressure. However, it is important to consult your physician, as excess sodium can be harmful for your heart health.
2. Drink more water. Drinking more water increases the fluid volume of the body and corrects dehydration, thereby, raising blood pressure.
3. Wear elastic stockings. Elastic stockings that are used to alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins in legs can be used to prevent the stagnation or pooling of blood in your legs, which can be a cause of low blood pressure.
4. Change positions slowly. Orthostatic hypotension occurs when you stand suddenly from a sitting or lying position. Therefore, changing positions slowly can often help to decrease the symptoms of dizziness and faintness associated with low blood pressure. When you get up in the morning, it is a good idea to keep lying for a few minutes and breathe deeply, then sit up slowly and get out of bed.
5. Try several positions. You can also try multiple positions to find the one that produces lesser symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness.
- While sleeping, elevate the head of your bed slightly; this way you can decrease the effects of gravity.
- If you experience symptoms of low blood pressure when you are standing or squatting, then doing certain maneuvers can help increase the flow of blood from your legs to your heart. Some of these maneuvers include: crossing your legs like a scissor and squeezing or placing one foot on a chair and leaning forward.
- During an emergency situation, lying down and elevating your feet can help increase your blood pressure.
- Your blood pressure is also raised when you sit in a low position or when you bend forwards from your waist down and place your hands on your knees.
6. Take regular exercise. Getting involved in mild form of regular exercise is also known to promote blood flow and relieve low blood pressure.
7. Eat healthy diet. Eat a healthy and well balanced diet that has enough nutrients. Try to eat small meals at frequent intervals and also eat meals that are low in carbohydrates.
8. Avoid and limit several things.
- It is best to limit your intake of alcoholic beverages as alcohol is known to lower blood pressure levels.
- While sitting at the toilet, you should avoid excessive straining.
- Prolonged exposure to steam and hot water should be avoided, such as in a spa or shower.
- Do not take blood pressure lowering drugs on an empty stomach.
- Avoid getting stressed.
When to See a Doctor
You should see your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms or if you have a blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm/Hg or less. Low blood pressure can be an emergency in many situations such as when it is caused due to massive blood loss, severe allergic reaction, severe dehydration, heart failure, very low blood sugar, septicemia, etc. and the patient should be hospitalized immediately.
Do not take medicines to treat low blood pressure without consulting your physician as treatment varies depending upon the cause of low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure can be a symptom of dangerous and life threatening conditions; hence, if you are experiencing constant symptoms of low blood pressure it is in your best interest to visit your physician immediately.