Low Blood Pressure, Should You Be Concerned!
Blood pressure is the result of the flow of blood times the resistance in the blood vessels as the heart pumps out blood. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. When the heart is actively pumping blood, the pressure is at its highest and referred to as systolic pressure. Between beats, when your heart is at rest the pressure falls this is diastolic pressure. These two numbers determine your blood pressure and are usually written one above/or before the other for example 120/80 or spoken as 120 over 80 (Normal). A reading of 90/60 or lower is considered as low (Hypotension), while 140/90 is considered as high (Hypertension). A blood pressure chart when used in tandem with your blood pressure monitor can be an invaluable tool towards alleviating your concerns or fears.
Low blood pressure may not have gained the notoriety as that of high blood pressure but if left untreated its consequences can be just as serious. There are a variety of ailments related to low blood pressure which if not diagnosed and treated in their early stages can lead to serious complications. Most prominent are: postural (orthostatic) hypotension and neutrally mediated (neurogenic orthostatic) hypotension.
Postural hypotension manifests itself as a dizzy or light headed feeling when moving from a lying or sitting position to standing position. It is thought to be caused by the inability of the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary vital actions, such as the heartbeat) to respond appropriately to sudden changes. It is believed that this can happen for a variety of reasons including: lack of food, extended exposure to heat, or being overly tired. People who are taking medication for high blood pressure are also prone to this illness. Treatment is dependent on the severity of the symptoms and may include increased fluid and salt intake and avoiding prolong periods without food or drink. Medication which encourages sodium retention and absorption may also be prescribed.
Neutrally Mediated Hypotension – when the regulation of blood pressure by the body is affected, particularly when standing. It is believed to be a lack of communication between the brain and the nerve censors which control heart rate and blood pressure. Not always is the condition serious, in some cases it may just be temporary while in others it can result in a person being unable to stand for long periods, dizziness, blurred vision and near fainting.
The kidneys can balance low blood pressure naturally by retaining salt and water, thereby making medical intervention unnecessary. However, it is advisable that you speak to your doctor if your monitor registers consistent low blood pressure readings or you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned. For some people a reading below 120/80 is normal and no cause for alarm. This low or borderline reading is normal and may even be considered a sign of good cardiovascular health, since this can also be an indication of little stress on the heart, lungs and blood vessels. A fall in pressure may also be due to some event (example standing too quickly) or because of a medical condition. However, low blood pressure cannot always be ignored. If you experience frequent bouts of dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, nausea, rapid weak pulse, muscle weakness, fatigue, headache, cold clammy skin and lack of concentration you should consult your doctor for an evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, if necessary. In extreme cases the body can be deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen which can result in impaired heart and brain functions and respiratory problems leading to loss of consciousness or shock.
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