High blood pressure affects around 75 million people in the United States—that’s one out of every three people. Low blood pressure, or hypotension, affects far fewer people but can still have serious ramifications.
Blood pressure is expressed in the unit “millimeters of mercury,” or mmHG, and is delivered in the form of two different numbers: a higher number that measures the pressure against artery walls during a heartbeat, and the lower number, which is the pressure between heart beats. Normal blood pressure is defined as being less than 120/80 mmHg, whereas low blood pressure is considered to be a level less than 90/60 mmHg. If a person is not experiencing any worrying symptoms with a low blood pressure reading, doctor’s usually won’t feel it’s something they need to treat. But a sudden drop in blood pressure could cause interruptions in the blood supply to the heart, kidneys, and brain. Negative symptoms of low blood pressure include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Blurred or distorted vision
Sometimes a person may have symptoms of low blood pressure when they go from a sitting position to suddenly standing up. This is known as orthostatic hypotension. Usually this is not dangerous unless positional change causes a person’s blood pressure to drop rapidly, which could lead to fainting.
In extreme situations, low blood pressure can lead to shock. A person who goes into shock needs emergency medical attention right away, as there will be reduced blood flow throughout the body—potentially causing damage to the organs.
There can be several reasons why a person may have hypotension, but having low blood pressure can be a sign of good health, especially if you’re not experiencing any of the negative side effects. Generally, most people with low blood pressure do not need medications or other medical interventions to raise blood pressure. But if you’re concerned about your blood pressure, are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above and have ruled out underlying conditions that might be the cause, there are plenty of natural lifestyle changes you could make to help raise low blood pressure.
Consume healthy foods that naturally contain sodium. Not everyone needs to be on a low sodium diet. People with low blood pressure particularly are not aided by the misconception that less salt is better. Salt makes your body retain water, and the extra water stored in your body can raise your blood pressure.
Try gradually increasing sodium intake to around 2000 milligrams per day. This is best accomplished by choosing healthy foods that naturally have a higher level of sodium, such as beets, carrots, spinach, celery, cantaloupe, seaweed, meat, shrimp, shellfish and artichokes. Sprinkling a little extra salt on your food also does the trick.
Drink more water to help increase blood volume. Not having enough blood in your body could cause low blood pressure. Besides helping raise blood volume, consuming plenty of fluids each day helps avoid dehydration. Men need between 10-13 cups of water a day, and women should get between 8-11 cups.
Eat small meals more frequently. Be sure not to skip meals or eat large, heavy meals on a regular basis. Either situation could contribute to a drop in blood pressure. Instead, eat on a regular schedule, and try to eat small meals five to six times a day. This has a huge impact on keeping your blood pressure regulated.
Go slow. Be careful not to stand up from either a sitting or lying down position too rapidly. This can cause a feeling of light-headedness, dizziness, or potential fainting in people with hypotension. The reason why this happens is because the heart has not pumped enough blood through the body quickly enough to account for the sudden change in position or elevation. If you’ve experienced this type of dizziness before, try to make your movements more gradual when transitioning to standing positions. If you’re lying down, first sit up for a few seconds and then slowly stand.
Review your medications with your doctor. Certain medications can cause a drop in blood pressure. Therefore, you could be taking a prescription medication that lowers blood pressure and not even know it. Medications to treat depression and anxiety or painkillers can lower blood pressure. Always read about the potential side effects of any medication, but be sure to ask your doctor for advice before discontinuing use.
Wear compression stockings. Compression stocking prevent the pooling of blood in the legs. Wearing them can ensure better and faster circulation of the blood back to the heart and lungs. These same stockings are also used to help relieve pressure and pain associated with varicose veins.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical contributor for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, SamadiMD.com, davidsamadiwiki, davidsamadibio and Facebook
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