Symptoms of Low Blood PressureWe doctors are constantly checking blood pressure. Every doctor visit – whether you’re sick or having a general checkup – usually begins with a blood pressure check. Even my dentist checks my blood pressure! The ideal blood pressure is 120/80. Anything within 10 points, above or below either measurement, is considered within the normal range. Therefore, 130/90 or higher is considered borderline high BP (hypertension) and 110/70 or lower is borderline low BP (hypotension). This constant checking of your blood pressure is a good thing. The number of people with heart disease or diabetes is only getting larger each year, and tracking a person’s blood pressure is a good way to get a pulse on a person’s overall health. Most doctors – myself included – don’t immediately view it as a bad thing when a patient has low BP. But chronic low BP can be considered dangerous if it’s causing these noticeable signs and symptoms:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fainting (syncope)
- Dehydration and unusual thirst
- Lack of concentration
- Blurred vision
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
Causes of Low Blood PressureSo what causes low blood pressure? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are host of underlying causes but these three are the most frequent:
- Prescription medications: Several drugs can lower your BP, most commonly drugs that treat hypertension, diuretics, beta blockers, drugs that combat Parkinson’s disease, drugs that treat erectile dysfunction, and tricyclic antidepressants. The AHA also warns that some over-the-counter drugs can lower BP when taken in combination with hypertension medications. Always read labels and consult your doctor if you have questions.
- Existing heart problems: Some heart conditions can lead to low BP, such as low heart rate, heart attacks, heart failure, or problems with heart valves. As a result of any of those, your heart may not be strong enough to pump blood efficiently through your entire body.
- Endocrine system problems: If your adrenal glands are releasing too many or too little of the body’s many hormones, the whole body is affected. Underactive thyroid, parathyroid disease, low blood sugar, and adrenal insufficiency (known as Addison’s disease) can contribute to chronic low BP. Doctors often fail to rule out possible adrenal gland problems. Be sure to discuss this as a possible cause.