Low blood pressure – and what to to about it

Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, is where blood pressure in your arteries is abnormally low.

Naturally low blood pressure is unlikely to cause any symptoms and is normally nothing to worry about. However, if your blood pressure drops too low, it can restrict the amount of blood flowing to your brain and other vital organs, which can cause, unsteadiness, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting. See more of the symptoms here.

As you probably know, I fainted last weekend, and hit my head (leading to me bring sick, a hospital visit, an ECG, a CT scan a big black and green eye). I’ve already learned about blood pressure and regularly take readings of my own, to check if it’s normal. So I knew what normal for me was (105/65 roughly).

My Dad always described it as your body just not being able to pump your blood enough up to your head when you stand up sometimes. So your brain doesn’t get blood and oxygen, and it forced you and your body to shut down, lie down and rest until the blood gets into your brain. Nothing too drastic (unless you bump your head on the way down – like I did!)

What is low blood pressure?

The heart pumps a constant supply of blood around the body through arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the blood on the walls of the arteries as the blood flows through them.

It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and recorded as two measurements:

  • systolic pressure – the pressure when your heart beats and squeezes blood into your arteries
  • diastolic pressure – the pressure when your heart rests between beats

For example, if your systolic blood pressure is 120 mmHg and your diastolic blood pressure is 80 mmHg, your blood pressure is 120 over 80, which is commonly written as 120/80.

Normal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 140/90. If you have a reading of 140/90 or more, you have high blood pressure (hypertension), which puts you at greater risk of developing serious health conditions, such as heart attack or stroke.

People with a blood pressure reading under 90/60 are usually regarded as having low blood pressure. See some of the causes of low blood pressure here.

How to measure blood pressure

You can get your blood pressure measured by your Dr or Nurse, or you can buy a good cheap blood pressure monitor to test it at home. I bought a cheap Omron blood pressure monitor (£26) like this one a few years back and it’s still going strong. Or here’s one that’s even cheaper at £12.

Treatment and self-help

Naturally low blood pressure does not usually need to be treated unless it is causing symptoms such as dizziness or recurrent falls. If it is causing symptoms, your GP will look at what the cause might be in case it can be treated.

There are also various things you can do to help limit symptoms of low blood pressure, including:

  • ensuring you are well hydrated – tick
  • avoiding caffeine at night and limiting your alcohol intake – tick
  • eating smaller meals, more often – tick
  • standing up gradually and avoiding standing for long periods of time – usually
  • eating more salt in your diet – I’ll try

See more about treatment here:http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Blood-pressure-(low)/Pages/Treatment.aspx

The above information was sourced from:http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Blood-pressure-(low)/Pages/Introduction.aspx

My next steps

My average blood pressure reading over the last few months has been 105/65, so well within the ‘normal range’, if a little below the 120/80 range.

This morning it was 96/59, so just within the normal range for systolic and a little low for diastolic. I’m fit and healthy and my blood pressure is normal mostly and verging on low, because of that (and some genetic factors in there too no doubt).

I’ll keep an eye on it, measure it regularly, and make sure I keep well hydrated, eat regularly, continue to drink coffee through the day (not at night).

I’ll get my bloods tested this week, which will hopefully show my iron levels / bloods are ok (when I give blood they test my blood, and it’s usually ok). And I’ll get steadily back into training regularly too, with plenty rest, food, water and sleep. 🙂

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