Low blood pressure is usually not caused by health problems, it is a common feature in some people and usually poses no health risk. However, when it arises suddenly or is accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, fainting or tiredness it may indicate a more serious problem such as dehydration, infection or heart problems.
Generally, blood pressure is considered low when it is less than 90 x 60 mmHg, and there is no minimum pressure limit, provided that the person has always had low blood pressure.
Dehydration occurs when the body is losing more water than it ingested and so the blood vessels will have less blood in them, which will lower blood pressure and cause symptoms such as weakness, fainting and tiredness. Dehydration is more common in the elderly or children, especially during the summer, or in people using diuretics without a medical indication.
What to do: Rehydration should be done with homemade saline solution, so that the body receives the water and minerals it is lacking, however, if the dehydration is severe, you should go to the hospital, as it may be necessary to have serum directly in the vein.
2. Vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency
Vitamin B12 and folic acid are two very important vitamins that help to form red blood cells, so when they are lacking in the body they can lead to anemia. Therefore, because there are fewer cells in the blood, it is normal for blood pressure to drop.
Some signs that may indicate anemia include weakness, paleness, tingling in the feet or hands, stiffness of the arms and legs or loss of touch sensitivity, for example.
What to do: When anemia is suspected, it is very important to consult a general practitioner to identify the correct cause of the anemia and to start the correct treatment. In the case of vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency, you should do supplementation with these vitamins and increase the intake of foods like salmon or liver steak.
3. Use of some medication
There are several types of remedies that, when used for a long time, can cause blood pressure to drop. Some of the more common examples include high blood pressure medication, diuretics, heart trouble medications, antidepressants, and erectile dysfunction remedies.
What to do: If you are taking one of these medications it is recommended you see the doctor who prescribed them to evaluate the possibility of changing the medication or changing the dose.
4. Hormonal changes
When there are changes in hormone production by the thyroid or the adrenal gland, for example, there may be dilatation of the blood vessels, which causes a sharp drop in blood pressure. In addition, changes in pregnancy can also cause this type of effect and therefore it is common for women to experience lower blood pressure during pregnancy than they had before.
What to do: In pregnancy, you should maintain an adequate intake of water to help in the production of fluids and try to regulate blood pressure. In other cases, it is important to see an endocrinologist to identify the hormonal problem and initiate the most appropriate treatment. Check out what to eat to regulate the thyroid.
5. Internal hemorrhage
An internal hemorrhage occurs when you start bleeding inside your body and, therefore, it can be more difficult to identify. When this happens, you may lose a lot of blood, which ends up leaving the blood vessels with less blood, reducing blood pressure greatly. Some signs that you may have internal bleeding include weakness, dizziness, trouble breathing or constant headache. However, low blood pressure can also occur when there is severe external bleeding.
What to do: If internal bleeding is suspected, you should go to the hospital immediately to identify the origin of the bleeding and start the most appropriate treatment.
6. Heart problems
Changes in heart function can also cause a decrease in blood pressure by reducing the amount of blood circulating in the body. The most common problems include heart failure, heart valve abnormalities, and arrhythmias.
In these situations, besides the decrease in blood pressure, other signs can also appear like chest discomfort, excessive tiredness, sensation of shortness of breath and cold sweat, for example. See what are the 12 signs that may indicate heart disease.
What to do: If there is a history of heart problems in the family or if you suspect you are having heart changes, you should see a cardiologist to get correctly diagnosed and start the most appropriate treatment.
7. Severe infection
Although it is rarer, low blood pressure can also arise due to a serious infection in the body, known as sepsis or septic shock. This is because bacteria spreads through the body and releases toxins that affect the blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure. See the symptoms that may indicate sepsis.
What to do: If you have an infection somewhere in your body and you have a sudden drop in blood pressure with symptoms such as weakness, dizziness and feeling faint, it is important to go to the hospital quickly to start antibiotics directly into the vein.
When to go to the doctor
It is recommended you see a general practitioner when your blood pressure drops more than 40 mmHg or is accompanied by:
- Dizziness and nausea;
- Excessive thirst;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Blurry vision;
- Excessive tiredness;
- Cold, pale skin.
When symptoms of low blood pressure appear, it is recommended you lie down and lift your legs, allowing the blood to reach the brain. If symptoms persist for more than 10 minutes, call for medical help, calling 911, or asking someone to take you to an emergency room.