Most people worry about having high blood pressure. For a few people,
however, low blood pressure, or hypotension, is a major concern.
Current guidelines identify optimal blood pressure as less than 120/80.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute defines hypotension as a
blood pressure lower than 90/60. There is no specific lower limit that
is defined as unhealthy. Elderly people, however, may have symptoms of
dizziness and lightheadedness when there blood pressure drops lower than
usual. But the majority of people with blood pressure in the lower
ranges are young and healthy, and have no symptoms.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), these are symptoms of
low blood pressure:
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Lack of concentration
Cold, clammy, pale skin
Rapid, shallow breathing
These are possible causes of low blood pressure:
Medications, including antianxiety drugs; heart medications;
drugs for Parkinson's disease; tricyclic antidepressants; and
sildenafil, particularly in combination with nitroglycerine;
narcotics and alcohol, the AHA says. Other prescription and
over-the-counter medications may cause low blood pressure when
taken in combination with drugs for high blood pressure.
Postural hypotension, or a sudden decrease in pressure that
occurs when you stand up after sitting or lying down. This can
cause dizziness, blurred vision, and fainting.
Heart problems, including an abnormally low heart rate, heart
attack, and heart failure.
Dehydration, shock, advanced diabetes, and thyroid problems.
Many healthy people who do have chronically low blood pressure and no
symptoms require no treatment. Most people with chronic low blood
pressure who have symptoms can be safely treated with medication and
The following actions may help control the problem:
Drink more water and avoid alcohol as it can be dehydrating.
Slow down. You may be able to reduce lightheadedness by taking
it easy when you move from a prone to a standing position.
Instead of jumping out of bed in the morning, for instance, sit
up on the edge before standing and wiggle your feet and move
your legs. This will get your heart rate up and increase
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.