Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)

What is low blood pressure? (Continued)

The range of systolic blood pressure for most healthy adults falls between 90 and 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal diastolic blood pressure ranges between 60 and 80 mm Hg. Current guidelines define normal blood pressure range as lower than 120/80. Blood pressures over 130/80 are considered high. High blood pressure increases the risk of damaging the arteries which leads to the development of:

  • heart disease,
  • kidney disease,
  • hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis),
  • eye damage, and
  • stroke.

Low blood pressure (hypotension) is pressure so low it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidney, the organs do not function normally and may be temporarily or permanently damaged.

Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure is defined primarily by signs and symptoms of low blood flow and not by a specific blood pressure number. Some individuals routinely may have blood pressure numbers of 90/50 with no symptoms and therefore do not have low blood pressure. However, others who normally have higher blood pressures may develop symptoms of low blood pressure if their blood pressure drops to 100/60.

In pregnancy, blood pressure tends to decrease. A blood pressure number lower than 100/60 may actually be normal in a pregnant woman. Blood pressure should be monitored by the obstetrician during pregnancy.

Reviewed on 7/14/2014

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