Healthy Heart

What Is the Impact of Low Blood Pressure on Health?

What Is the Impact of Low Blood Pressure on Health?

Key Takeaways

  • A normal blood pressure is considered to be at a reading of 120/80 mm Hg.
  • A low blood pressure is defined as a reading that is below 90 mm Hg (systolic) and 60 mm Hg (diastolic).
  • Low blood pressure is considered alarming when accompanied with some serious signs and symptoms.

Our body has certain parameters to maintain its normal functioning. Blood sugar levels and blood pressure readings are just a couple of screenings that can determine the body's functioning system. While having a high blood pressure is more commonly regarded by most people as dangerous, some people with low blood pressure could also be in trouble. When the blood pressure falls all of a sudden, it is often accompanied by certain symptoms, some of which could be drowsiness, fainting, inability to focus, blurring of vision, poor eyesight, depression, fatigue, and so on. In a number of cases, low blood pressure is considered to be a serious ailment. However, if you have consistent low readings in routine checkups it is not something to be ignored and must be shown to the doctor immediately.

Sometimes, the symptoms of dizziness or fainting could be triggered due to other issues such as dehydration, spending too much time under the sun, or in a hot shower. While it is obvious that in such conditions, the blood pressure levels are likely to drop, it is more important to point out how fast the levels have dropped. In case you are experiencing symptoms that are related to low blood pressure, it is best to consult a doctor to track down the exact cause behind your condition and rectify the same with the required medications.

Understanding Blood Pressure

When the heart pumps blood within the blood vessels, the blood pushes against the sides of your blood vessels, which creates blood pressure. A blood pressure reading comprises two numbers: one on the top and one below. 

  • Systolic pressure - The upper number of the blood pressure reading is known as the systolic blood pressure, which indicates the pressure generated by the heart when it pumps blood through the arteries and toward the other parts of the body.
  • Diastolic pressure - The lower number of the reading is known as the diastolic pressure, which indicates the pressure in the arteries when resting in between beats. 

Your blood pressure depends on various parameters such as your current health condition, age factor, and so on. As per the current parameters, a normal blood pressure is considered to be at a reading of 120/80 mm Hg.

There is no specific time when to get an approximately accurate reading of your blood pressure. However, it is also important to remember that blood pressure readings would keep changing throughout the day depending upon the activity you undertake. Even the shortest time gap could bring about huge variations in the reading. Blood pressure is normally at its lowest during the night and is known to suddenly rise when one wakes up.

How low can blood pressure go?

What may seem like a low blood pressure reading in your case may be normal in the case of another person. In most cases, the doctors decide on how low the blood pressure is based on the symptoms experienced by the person rather than going only by the readings.

In some cases, a low blood pressure is defined as a reading that is below 90 mm Hg (systolic) and 60 mm Hg (diastolic). To be considered as a case of low blood pressure, it is enough to have even one reading below the normal levels. Hence, if your reading above is 120 while the below reading is 50, it would be considered as a lower blood pressure reading compared to the normal measures.

A sudden drop in blood pressure is always considered alarming. Even the slightest changes that occur all of a sudden could cause symptoms of low blood pressure like fainting or drowsiness as the brain is unable to get its adequate supply of blood needed for the normal functioning of the body.

A low blood pressure can happen when there is severe bleeding, infection, or any type of severe allergic reaction, all of which can be life-threatening.

People who have an active lifestyle such as athletes and sportspersons often tend to have a lower blood pressure reading compared to those who live a sedentary lifestyle and are not very fit. Moreover, people who have healthy habits and proper dietary control with a healthy weight usually manage a lower blood pressure compared to others.

In some conditions, a low blood pressure could result in something serious and could even become fatal when not corrected on time.

Conditions That Could Cause a Low Blood Pressure

There are some conditions that could result in lower blood pressure levels. They include:

  • Pregnancy - Pregnancy often causes changes and variations in the blood pressure levels. Both high and low blood pressure levels are a possibility among pregnant women as their circulatory system expands making up for blood supply for both the mother and the growing fetus. Due to such changes, blood pressure levels could drop. These drops could be consistent throughout the pregnancy or may occur when the mother undertakes certain activities. In most cases, the blood pressure returns to normal after delivery.
  • Cardiac issues - A number of cardiac or heart problems could result in low blood pressure. Some of these conditions include lower heart rate or bradycardia, problems associated with the heart valve, cardiac arrest or heart attack, and heart failure. These conditions often result in low blood pressure as the blood flows through the body gets severely affected.
  • Endocrine problems - The endocrine system consists of the thyroid glands, and thyroid problems such as parathyroid disease, Addison’s disease, low blood sugar levels, or diabetes could result in low blood pressure levels.
  • Dehydration - When a person reaches a state of dehydration, there is a significant loss of water in the body. Dehydration is a very severe condition that could immediately trigger weakness, dizziness, and even tiredness beyond normal. Various conditions including high temperature, diarrhea, and an excessive use of diuretics could make a person dehydrated. Dehydration also has a fatal complication known as hypovolemic shock, which is triggered when there is a low blood volume in the body caused by blood or fluid loss. Such condition can trigger a sudden drop in the blood pressure levels reducing the oxygen supply in the entire body. When left untreated for long, a hypovolemic shock could also result in immediate death.
  • Loss of blood - Excessive loss of blood due to an injury or any form of internal bleeding could also result in an immediate drop of a person's blood pressure level.
  • Severe infection of the blood or sepsis - Sepsis happens when the infection enters the bloodstream, thereby affecting the entire body. This condition is usually considered fatal and results in a severe drop in the blood pressure, which is called a septic shock.
  • Allergic reactions - Sometimes, serious allergic reactions can become life-threatening. Allergic reactions can be due to various triggers such as foods, medicines, insect bites, and so on. These reactions are often observed to cause a steep drop in the blood pressure.
  • Poor nutrition - Insufficiency of certain vital nutrients in the diet could result in low blood pressure. For example, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency could lead to a lack of red blood cells in the body, which in turn could result in anemia.