Low Blood Pressure, All Causes

A blood pressure reading is made up of 2 numbers There is a top number over a bottom number. The top number is the systolic pressure. It measures your pressure as your heart is contracting (squeezing) to pump blood. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure. It measures your pressure when the heart is relaxing and refilling with blood. A normal blood pressure is a systolic pressure less than 120 and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Low blood pressure (hypotension) is a blood pressure that is less than what is normal for you. Low blood pressure can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.

Some medicines can cause low blood pressure. They include:

  • High blood pressure pills

  • Water pills (diuretics)

  • Some heart medicines

  • Some antidepressants

  • Pain, anxiety, sedative, and sleeping medicines

Other causes include:

  • Dehydration, severe infection, or fever

  • Blood loss, such as bleeding from the stomach or intestines.

  • Heart failure

  • Change in heart rate or rhythm (arrhythmia)

  • A drop in blood pressure from a sudden change in body position, from lying down to standing (orthostatic hypotension)

  • Alcohol or drug intoxication

  • Neurological diseases that impair the autonomic nervous system

Treatment will depend on what is causing your low blood pressure.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • Rest until your symptoms get better.

  • Keep a record of your symptoms and what you were doing when they occurred. Bring the record with you to your next appointment.

  • Be aware of how quickly your blood pressure drops when you become dehydrated, spend a lot of time in the sun, or have low blood sugar. Take measures to prevent blood pressure drops at these times.

  • Follow the treatment plan described by your healthcare provider.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting

  • Black or red color in your stools or vomit

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

  • Chest, shoulder, arm, neck, or upper back pain

  • Abdominal pain

  • Diarrhea or vomiting that doesn’t go away

  • You aren’t able to eat or drink

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Burning when you urinate

  • Foul-smelling urine

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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