Low blood pressure can make you feel dizzy. While it can happen after eating, when standing up, or due to shock or stress, low blood pressure can also occur with certain health conditions, such as pregnancy.
Your blood pushes against your arteries with every heartbeat. The force of blood pushing against your artery walls is called blood pressure.
Blood pressure goes up and down in response to your regular activities, such as sleeping and moving around. The medical term for low blood pressure is hypotension.
Blood pressure is made up of two measurements: when your heart beats, and in the periods of rest between heartbeats.
- Systolic pressure (or systole) is the measurement of your blood pumping through your arteries when the ventricles of the heart squeeze. Systole supplies your body with blood.
- Diastolic pressure (or diastole) is the measurement for the periods of rest. Diastole supplies your heart with blood by filling the coronary arteries.
Your blood pressure reading is made up of two numbers: first the systolic measure, then the diastolic measure. Having a lower blood pressure is good in most cases (less than 120/80).
But low blood pressure can sometimes make you feel tired or dizzy. In those cases, hypotension can be a sign of an underlying condition that should be treated. Hypotension in adults is defined as a blood pressure reading of lower than
There are several types of hypotension. Low blood pressure is categorized according to when it happens and what’s causing it.
Orthostatic hypotension (also known as postural hypotension) is the drop in blood pressure that occurs when you move from sitting or lying down to standing.
As your body adjusts to the position change, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. This is what some people refer to as “seeing stars” when they get up.
Orthostatic hypotension is the most common form of low blood pressure. It can affect people of all ages, but it’s especially common in older adults. Aging and pregnancy can also cause an overall lowering of blood pressure.
Conditions affecting the autonomic nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, can often lead to orthostatic hypotension. This form of low blood pressure affects
Postprandial hypotension is a drop in blood pressure that occurs after eating. According to a 2010 review, low blood pressure after eating is more common in older adults and people with autonomic dysfunction.
Blood pressure is a balancing act between your nervous system and other bodily systems (like your hormones and organs). Neurally mediated hypotension happens when there is an abnormal reflex interaction between the heart and the brain.
Causes of neurally mediated hypotension include:
- Standing in one position for a long time. Children experience this form of hypotension more often than adults.
- Having a strong emotional response, such as feeling shocked or scared. Some people experience low blood pressure during medical or dental procedures for this reason.
A severe drop in blood pressure can occur during shock. Shock can happen if you experience a serious injury or infection.
During shock, your organs do not get the blood and oxygen they need to function properly. Severe hypotension can be life threatening if not treated quickly.
Having low blood pressure all the time can be a side effect of some medications. For example, medications used to treat high blood pressure can sometimes cause hypotension.
Other conditions affecting the heart, nerves, liver, or hormone systems can also cause an overall lowering of blood pressure.
Everyone’s blood pressure drops at one time or another. Your body’s internal regulation of blood flow can sometimes cause you to have lower-than-normal blood pressure.
Some people have low blood pressure all the time, without symptoms. The cause of this type of hypotension is unknown.
What causes a sudden drop in blood pressure?
A sudden decrease in blood pressure can happen after certain events. These include:
- standing up quickly
- eating a meal
- feeling suddenly afraid or experiencing a shocking event
Conditions that can cause low blood pressure
Certain conditions can cause long periods of hypotension that can become dangerous if left untreated. These conditions include:
- pregnancy, due to an increase in demand for blood from both the pregnant person and the growing fetus
- impaired circulation caused by a heart attack or heart condition
- dehydration, for example if you’re vomiting and can’t keep liquids down, or have severe diarrhea
- endocrine disorders, such as diabetes, adrenal insufficiency, and thyroid disease
- autonomic dysfunction, damage to the nerves that control some bodily functions
- prolonged bed rest
- shock, a serious condition in which your vital organs aren’t getting enough oxygen
- anaphylactic shock, a severe form of allergic reaction
- large amounts of blood loss through injury
- blood infections
Medications that can cause low blood pressure
Medications might also cause your blood pressure to become too low.
Beta-blockers and nitroglycerin, used to treat heart disease, can have this effect.
Diuretics, tricyclic antidepressants, and erectile dysfunction drugs can also cause hypotension.
If a medication you’re taking causes your blood pressure to become too low, your doctor may adjust the dosage or change the medication. This usually improves the hypotension.
Hypotension doesn’t always cause symptoms. But sometimes low blood pressure means your vital organs aren’t receiving as much blood flow as they need. If this happens, you might feel tired or unwell. Symptoms of hypotension may include:
- fatigue, an all-around sense of tiredness or lacking energy
- lightheadedness, or feeling like you might faint
- dizziness, feeling off-balance when you get up from a reclined or seated position, or while you’re standing
- nausea, a sense of discomfort in your stomach and feeling like you want to vomit
- clammy skin, when you feel damp or sweaty to the touch
- depression, persistent feelings such as sadness or low mood that interfere with your daily activities
- loss of consciousness, also known as fainting or syncope
- blurry vision, when your eyesight is out-of-focus or hazy
(Video) What Causes Low Blood Pressure? – Dr.Berg
Your treatment plan will depend on what’s causing your hypotension. Your doctor will consider factors including:
- the type of hypotension you’re experiencing
- the situations that may be causing hypotension for you
For some people, low blood pressure may not cause any symptoms. In cases where treatment is needed, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medical treatment, or a combination of both.
Sometimes changing certain habits can improve your low blood pressure. The causes of hypotension are different for different people, so your care plan probably won’t include all of these changes.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, your doctor might suggest that you:
Drink plenty of water to avoid hypotension due to dehydration, especially if you are vomiting or have diarrhea. Stay well hydrated during exercise and when you’re in a hot location.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend increasing your electrolyte intake to help keep your blood pressure higher.
Learn your emotional or stress triggers
Make note of the situations where you felt very scared or emotional right before a drop in your blood pressure. You may be able to plan ahead to avoid those situations. Or, you can plan for support in case you become dizzy or feel unwell.
If you usually experience low blood pressure when you visit the doctor or dentist, you might consider telling them.
If you experience low blood pressure when standing for long periods, try flexing your leg muscles and moving in place. If you have the option, take a break to sit down.
Take your time when standing up
Change positions slowly and gradually. Instead of standing up quickly, work your way into a sitting or standing position using small movements. Slow, deep breathing may help keep your blood pressure up.
Change your eating habits
If you experience low blood pressure after eating, your doctor might suggest eating smaller meals more often throughout the day, or eating different foods. Avoid standing up suddenly after eating.
There are many ways to manage low blood pressure in your daily life. Your doctor may make other lifestyle suggestions based on your needs.
Some forms of hypotension may require medical treatment. Medical treatment for low blood pressure can include:
- Medication for an underlying condition. When an underlying condition is causing low blood pressure, your treatment may include medication for that condition. Your doctor may recommend medication for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or infection.
- Medication to raise blood pressure. Sometimes, your doctor will prescribe daily medication to raise severely low blood pressure. This is more likely in cases of severe orthostatic hypotension when other treatments have not helped.
- Emergency treatment for shock. Shock-induced hypotension is the most serious form of low blood pressure. Dangerously low blood pressure must be treated immediately. Emergency personnel may give you fluids and other treatments to increase your blood pressure and stabilize your vital signs.
Hypotension isn’t always a sign of a larger health problem, and it may be treated easily. But for some people, low blood pressure requires treatment to prevent possible complications. Some complications of hypotension are:
Falls and related injuries
A sudden drop in blood pressure may make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or even lose consciousness (faint). These symptoms can come on quickly, causing falls or other injuries.
Falls are a major cause of hospitalization for older adults. Older adults are more likely to experience hypotension after standing up or eating. Treatment and lifestyle changes can help you manage hypotension symptoms.
If your blood pressure falls dangerously low, your vital organs can start to malfunction because they aren’t receiving enough blood to work properly. This can cause you to go into shock. Symptoms of shock include:
- cool, clammy skin
- a fast or irregular heartbeat
- rapid breathing
Shock is a medical emergency. If you think you or someone else is experiencing shock, call 911 or your local emergency services.
Many people can manage low blood pressure by understanding the condition and its symptoms. Learn your triggers, if you have them, and how to manage them.
If low blood pressure is making you feel unwell, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or medical treatment. If you’re prescribed medication, take it as directed to increase your blood pressure and avoid potentially harmful complications.
It’s always best to notify your doctor if you’re concerned about your blood pressure levels and any symptoms you have.
What should I know about low blood pressure? ›
Low blood pressure occurs when blood pressure is much lower than normal. This means the heart, brain, and other parts of the body do not get enough blood. Normal blood pressure is mostly between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg. The medical name for low blood pressure is hypotension.What is the root cause of low blood pressure? ›
Causes include dehydration, long-term bed rest, pregnancy, certain medical conditions and some medications. This type of low blood pressure is common in older adults. Postprandial hypotension. This drop in blood pressure occurs 1 to 2 hours after eating.What are you lacking if you have low blood pressure? ›
Nutritional deficiencies: A lack of the essential vitamins B-12 and folic acid can cause anemia, which in turn can lead to low blood pressure.Is 80 40 blood pressure too low? ›
Low blood pressure is also known as hypotension. People with a reading of around 90/60, or less, are commonly regarded as having low blood pressure. Some people who have low blood pressure experience symptoms as a result of it. There may be an underlying cause that could need treatment.Is low blood pressure a serious problem? ›
Low blood pressure can be a sign of serious heart, endocrine or neurological conditions. If left untreated, the brain and other vital organs do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need. In extreme cases, this can cause shock, a life-threatening condition.How do I stop getting low blood pressure? ›
- Drink more water, less alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating and can lower blood pressure, even if drinking in moderation. ...
- Pay attention to body positions. Gently move from lying flat or squatting to a standing position. ...
- Eat small, low-carb meals. ...
- Exercise regularly.
Heart problems or stroke: Low blood pressure can cause your heart to try to compensate by pumping faster or harder. Over time, that can cause permanent heart damage and even heart failure. It can also cause problems like deep vein thrombosis and stroke because blood isn't flowing like it should, causing clots to form.Does low blood pressure make you tired? ›
Having a lower blood pressure is good in most cases (less than 120/80). But low blood pressure can sometimes make you feel tired or dizzy. In those cases, hypotension can be a sign of an underlying condition that should be treated. Hypotension in adults is defined as a blood pressure reading of lower than 90/60 .What fruit is good for low blood pressure? ›
Include foods that are high in folates like asparagus, beans, and lentils in your diet. Fruits containing folate can help increase blood pressure. Fruits good for low blood pressure patients include lime, orange, and grapefruit. Also, make sure to have your dose of green leafy vegetables.What foods should you avoid if you have low blood pressure? ›
In a Nutshell
It is important to cut back on carbs and increase your vitamin B12 intake to maintain normal BP levels. Drinking a lot of fluids is also important along with consuming foods for hypotension.
When should you go to ER for low blood pressure? ›
If low blood pressure causes a person to pass out (become unconscious), seek treatment right away. Or call 911 or the local emergency number. If the person is not breathing or has no pulse, begin CPR.Can you live long with low blood pressure? ›
Some people live long term in low blood pressure ranges while being healthy. According to the American Heart Association(AHA), most doctors will consider chronic low blood pressure 50/30 dangerous only if additional symptoms accompany it.Is 60 over 40 a good blood pressure? ›
Your ideal blood pressure is between 90/60 mmHg and120/80 mmHg. If it gets too low, then you have low blood pressure, or hypotension.What are the 10 signs of low blood pressure? ›
- lightheadedness or dizziness.
- feeling sick.
- blurred vision.
- generally feeling weak.
If your blood pressure is 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or lower, it's considered normal. Generally, if the blood pressure reading is under 90/60 mm Hg, it is abnormally low and is referred to as hypotension.
For many people, chronic low blood pressure can be effectively treated with diet and lifestyle changes. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, your doctor may tell you to increase your blood pressure by making these simple changes: Eat a diet higher in salt. Drink lots of nonalcoholic fluids.What is the danger zone for blood pressure? ›
Call 911 or emergency medical services if your blood pressure is 180/120 mm Hg or greater and you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or symptoms of stroke.Which number is more important in blood pressure? ›
Q. When I am monitoring my blood pressure, which number is most important — top, bottom, or both? A. While both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, doctors primarily focus on the top number, also known as systolic pressure.What is a pre stroke? ›
Pre-strokes or mini strokes are the common terms used to describe a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Unlike a full blown stroke, a TIA only lasts a few minutes and does not cause permanent damage. Nevertheless it is a warning sign that a possible stroke may be coming in the future.What are red flags for low blood pressure? ›
Light-headedness, when standing from a sitting or lying position. Unsteadiness. Dizziness. Weakness.
What vitamins help low blood pressure? ›
Those wondering how vitamins raise blood pressure must know that folic acid or vitamin B9 can raise low blood pressure and effectively prevent anaemia by producing red blood cells.What should I eat for breakfast if my blood pressure is low? ›
Foods high in vitamin B12 such as eggs, meat, milk products, fortified breakfast cereals, and some nutritional yeast products. Foods high in folate such as dark leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, eggs, dairy, meat, poultry, seafood, and grains.Is sugar good for low blood pressure? ›
Scientists aren't sure why sugar drives up blood pressure. Maybe it's because sugar activates the sympathetic nervous system, which initiates the fight-or-flight response.Should you eat more if you have low blood pressure? ›
Tips for avoiding low blood pressure
Here are a few other changes you can make to your diet to help raise your blood pressure: Eat small meals more frequently. Large meals may cause more dramatic drops in blood pressure, as your body works harder to digest larger meals. Drink more water and limit alcohol.
Consumption of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco cause your blood pressure to immediately rise. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking at least 30 minutes before your blood pressure test to ensure an accurate measurement.Is chocolate good for low blood pressure? ›
Relaxes blood vessels
Dark chocolate also helps increase the levels of nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide widens your arteries by causing the smooth muscle around your blood vessels to relax, which lowers your blood pressure levels.
Eating too much sugar can inhibit the production of nitric oxide (NO) in blood vessels. Nitric oxide normally helps with vasodilation (expanding of the blood vessels). Without NO, vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) can result, leading to high blood pressure.What is considered a dangerously low blood pressure chart? ›
Generally, if the blood pressure reading is under 90/60 mm Hg, it is abnormally low and is referred to as hypotension.Is 40 diastolic too low? ›
A doctor will consider a diastolic reading below 60 mm Hg to be too low.