Have you been experiencing fatigue, dizziness, lack of concentration, or lightheadedness? These could be the symptoms of low blood pressure. Generally, if you do not have any symptoms, low blood pressure levels should not be a cause of concern. However, you may want to know how to increase blood pressure levels in such cases. Let’s find out more about it.
What is Low Blood Pressure?
Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, is a common clinical condition where your blood pressure (the force exerted by blood against the walls of your blood vessels as it flows) is lower than normal. The blood flows with very less pressure or force through your blood vessels and does not reach your brain, arteries, and organs completely.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Your blood pressure reading consists of 2 numbers:
- The systolic blood pressure or the top number indicates the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
- The diastolic blood pressure or the bottom number indicates the pressure in your blood vessels between the beats.
A blood pressure reading of less than 90 (systolic) and/or less than 60 (diastolic) mm Hg is considered to be low blood pressure.
What Causes Low Blood Pressure?
Your blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood pumped by your heart and the resistance in the blood vessels of your heart. It varies throughout the day depending on various factors such as:
- Body position
- Breathing rhythm
- Time of the day
- Physical condition
- Medication being taken
Low blood pressure is majorly caused due to medical conditions such as heart diseases, endocrine disorders, pregnancy, severe infection, dehydration, blood loss, and malnutrition. Another cause of low blood pressure can be the usage of certain medications such as blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and medications for Parkinson’s disease and erectile dysfunction.
Symptoms of Low BP
The following are the symptoms of hypotension or low blood pressure:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue or weakness
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Types of Low BP
Low blood pressure can be divided into four types based on the cause. They are:
Orthostatic or postural hypotension
A condition where your blood pressure drops whenever you change your position too quickly, especially when you stand up after lying down or sitting for a while.
A condition where your blood pressure levels drop after you have a meal.
Neurally mediated hypotension
A neurological condition where your autonomic nervous system is unable to maintain normal blood pressure levels whenever you are standing or upright.
Multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension
A degenerative neurological condition where the autonomic nervous system gradually declines. This results in the brain being unable to regulate blood pressure levels.
Low BP Treatment and Management
Hypotension is not always a cause of concern, especially if no symptoms are present. However, if you have symptoms and the exact cause for low blood pressure is not known, it can be effectively managed with the following lifestyle changes:
Eat small meals, more frequently
Consuming small meals in short intervals of time has proven to be an effective way in managing low blood pressure, especially postprandial hypotension. Smaller and frequent meals get digested more efficiently, which reduces the chances of lower blood pressure during the day.
Switch to a low-carb diet
Foods high in carbohydrates place additional demands for blood to be present in the intestine for digestion. The blood flow to other parts of the body may decrease, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure. Thus, switching to a low-carb diet may help prevent such sudden instances of hypotension.
Eat more salt
Foods with high salt content can increase your blood pressure because the sodium in salt can retain water in your body and raise blood pressure. You can add table salt or mineral salt to your meals as per your preference, but make sure you consult a doctor about your salt intake, as too much salt can also be detrimental to your health.
When you are dehydrated, the volume of your blood also decreases. This leads to low blood pressure. Drink at least 2 liters of water everyday and include more fluids in your diet, especially during the hot weather.
Alcohol causes dehydration in your body, which leads to a low blood volume and low blood pressure. If you have existing low blood pressure, you should avoid any consumption of alcohol.
Wear compression stockings
Compression stockings are elastic socks that cover your legs and thighs and constrict the blood vessels within them. They may help reduce the pooling of blood in your legs and distribute it to the other parts of the body uniformly. This can help in improving low blood pressure levels.
Pay attention to posture changes
For postural hypotension, you can take steps such as gently moving from a sleeping or squatting to a standing position and not sitting with your legs crossed. You can also avoid getting up and moving around quickly. If you begin to get symptoms of low BP while standing, cross your thighs (like a pair of scissors) and squeeze, or put one foot on a ledge or chair and lean as far forward as possible. These moves encourage blood flow from your legs to your heart, thus improving BP levels.
Working out regularly can help improve blood circulation around your body. Improved blood flow can help you overcome the symptoms of low blood pressure like dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, etc. However, avoid lifting heavy weights or changing your position too quickly as it can cause your blood pressure levels to drop again.
If your low blood pressure levels are not improving through these lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe medication such as fludrocortisone (it helps to raise blood volume) and midodrine (it helps to narrow blood vessels to raise blood pressure). The doctor may also give you medication to treat the underlying condition causing low BP levels.
How to Increase Blood Pressure Immediately at Home?
In case there is a sudden drop in your blood pressure, you should reach out for immediate medical help. Till the time you wait for help, you can take a few steps to increase your blood pressure.
Lie down on a flat surface
If you are experiencing low blood pressure, lying down on a flat surface can help improve blood circulation. When you lie down, your heart can pump blood more easily. This can help alleviate symptoms like dizziness or blurred vision.
Drink Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution
ORS contains essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and other nutrients that prevent or treat dehydration. When taken with water, it helps restore sodium and fluid levels in your body, which contributes to raising your blood pressure.
Drink water or other fluids
Drinking water or other fluids like juices, milk, sports drinks, etc., can raise your blood pressure in emergencies. Fluid consumption improves your blood volume, which in turn improves your blood pressure levels.
Eat something salty
Licking salt, eating salty foods, or drinking a glass of water with salt can help your body maintain fluid balance and reach normal blood pressure levels instantly.
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, is a condition where your blood pressure (the force exerted by blood against the walls of your blood vessels) is lower than normal. A blood pressure reading of less than 90 (systolic) and/or less than 60 (diastolic) mm Hg is considered to be low blood pressure.
- Low blood pressure can happen due to medical conditions such as heart diseases, endocrine disorders, pregnancy, severe infection, dehydration, blood loss, malnutrition, or medications.
- Symptoms of hypotension or low blood pressure include dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, blurred vision, fatigue, inability to focus, fainting, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
- The different types of low blood pressure based on the cause are orthostatic or postural hypotension, postprandial hypotension, neurally mediated hypotension, and multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension.
- Hypotension is not always a cause of concern, especially if no symptoms are present. However, it can be effectively managed by incorporating lifestyle changes including eating small but frequent meals, switching to a low-carb diet, eating more salt, staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol, wearing compression stockings, exercising, avoiding sudden posture changes, and taking medication.
- In case there is a sudden drop in your blood pressure, you should immediately reach out for medical help. Till the time you wait for help, you can take a few steps to increase your blood pressure including lying down on a flat surface, drinking Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution, drinking water or other fluids, and eating something salty.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading cardiologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate BP monitors and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Hypertension Management Program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat low/high blood pressure problems together.
If you have low blood pressure levels but do not have any symptoms, you may not need to take any steps. If you feel symptoms such as dizziness, blurry vision, or irregular heartbeat, seek immediate medical attention. While you wait, you can lie down on a flat surface, drink water, fluids or ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts) solution, or lick some salt for your BP levels to improve.
Low blood pressure patients should avoid the consumption of bananas without consulting a doctor. Bananas are rich in potassium, which reduces the sodium content in the body and lowers blood pressure levels. Hence, low blood pressure patients could see an extreme drop in blood pressure levels after eating bananas.
Yes, if you eat salty foods or lick some salt to raise your BP levels while you wait for medical attention, the salt should improve your BP levels almost instantly, within an hour.
You should eat foods that are rich in vitamin B-12 (eggs, fortified cereals, animal meats, dairy products etc.), foods high in folate (beans, lentils, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, etc.) and salty foods (canned soup, pickled items, olives, etc.)
Blood pressure levels below 90/60 mm Hg are considered hypotension. You may experience symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, or fainting at a blood pressure level below 80/50 mm Hg, and you should seek immediate medical assistance.
Yes, low blood pressure levels can cause headaches in some people.
Yes, low blood pressure can make you feel tired and dizzy. In those cases, the low blood pressure levels may be due to an underlying condition which needs to be addressed.
Yes, you can exercise with low blood pressure. Make sure you have consulted your doctor about the cause of your low BP levels if any, and about the kind of exercise you intend to undertake. Discontinue exercising if you start showing symptoms of low BP such as dizziness or irregular heartbeats. Stay adequately hydrated, take time to warm up and cool down, and change your positions slowly.