Blood pressure measures the force of blood pumping through the body. Low blood pressure, or Hypotension, occurs when its levels fall below 90/60 millimeters of mercury, the minimum normal blood pressure.
Although hypotension usually does not cause any symptoms, it may sometimes indicate the presence of certain medical conditions. Therefore, what are the causes of low blood pressure? And how can they be managed?
What are the causes of low blood pressure?
There are several causes of hypotension, including the following:
1- Heart diseases
Heart diseases are among the leading causes of low blood pressure. In such cases, the heart may be unable to pump sufficient amounts of blood to different body parts. Examples of heart conditions that can cause these effects include heart attack, heart failure, and heart valve diseases.
2- Endocrine disorders
Endocrine disorders can indeed affect blood pressure and cause it to decrease; this includes:
- Addison’s disease: It affects the adrenal glands and impairs their ability to produce hormones that control blood pressure and regulate the body’s balance of salt and water. This can lead to a loss of salt and result in dehydration, which is one of the significant causes of low blood pressure.
- Diabetes: it can also lead to low blood pressure, as it may cause dehydration in some cases. Additionally, certain medications used to treat diabetes can have low blood pressure as a side effect.
- Other disorders: Diseases affecting the thyroid glands can also cause a drop in blood pressure.
3- Neurological disorders
Certain neurological disorders can cause a drop in blood pressure, such as Parkinson’s disease, which affects how the nervous system regulates blood pressure, leading to Hypotension.
4- Serious medical conditions
Low blood pressure can occur due to severe medical conditions, such as:
- Blood infection: also known as septicemia, is a severe infection that reaches the bloodstream and can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
- Anaphylactic shock: happens when a person experiences a severe allergic reaction and releases a large amount of histamine in the body. Histamine causes the blood vessels to dilate, resulting in a sudden and sharp drop in blood pressure.
5- Certain nutrient deficiencies
A deficiency in certain nutrients such as iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 prevents the body from producing sufficient red blood cells, leading to anemia, which in turn can cause low blood pressure.
6- Low blood volume
A decrease in blood volume can be caused by certain medical conditions, leading to low blood pressure. This includes the following:
- Blood loss: Blood loss, whether due to severe injuries, heavy bleeding, or blood donation, can reduce blood volume, resulting in low blood pressure.
- Dehydration: Dehydration reduces blood volume and can lead to a drop in blood pressure. Dehydration can occur for various reasons, such as not drinking enough water and fluids, experiencing fever, or vomiting.
During the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, it is common for pregnant women to experience low blood pressure. Pregnancy is accompanied by the expansion and dilation of blood vessels, which affects blood pressure and can cause it to drop. It is worth mentioning that pregnant women may experience abnormally low blood pressure if they encounter medical issues during pregnancy, such as bleeding.
8- Certain medications
Low blood pressure may be one of the side effects of using certain medications, such as:
- Beta-blockers, which are used to treat heart conditions or high blood pressure.
- Alpha-blockers, which are used to lower blood pressure in hypertension patients.
- Medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
- Some types of antidepressants.
Factors may affect blood pressure levels
Other factors that may contribute to low blood pressure include the following:
- Genetic factors: You may inherit low blood pressure from your parents if they have it too. This does not necessarily indicate a medical problem.
- Age: Blood vessels tend to become stiffer with advancing age, which can lead to low blood pressure if these vessels do not contract properly.
- Eating recently: A slight drop in blood pressure may occur after eating because blood flow increases to the digestive system during digestion, reducing blood flow to other parts of the body.
- Prolonged bed rest: Low blood pressure can result from long periods of inactivity and bed rest.
- Psychological stress: Feeling stressed, in pain, or anxious can cause a drop in blood pressure.
- Temperature: When you feel cold, the heart may beat more slowly, leading to a drop in blood pressure.
Tips for managing low blood pressure
Managing Hypotension varies depending on the underlying cause. As mentioned earlier, some causes of low blood pressure can be severe. Therefore, you must consult a doctor immediately if you are experiencing persistent low blood pressure and severe symptoms such as weak and rapid pulse.
If your condition is mild, you can manage your low blood pressure by following these tips:
- Drink adequate water: Drinking water and fluids can help treat dehydration and increase blood volume, thus raising blood pressure.
- Follow a healthy diet: Low blood pressure may occur if you don’t get enough nutrients. Therefore, follow a balanced diet, and you can consult your doctor about taking dietary supplements if you have certain nutrient deficiencies.
- Divide your meals: It is preferable to divide your meals into several small ones, as it is common for blood pressure to drop after consuming a large and heavy meal.
- Consume salty foods: The sodium in salt can help raise blood pressure, but be cautious and consume these foods in moderation. Excessive intake can significantly increase blood pressure, leading to potential health issues such as heart disease in the long run.