Can Stress Cause Low Blood Pressure?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I've heard that stress may cause high blood pressure, but can it also cause low blood pressure?

Doctor's response

Low blood pressure is hard to define, because a lowered blood pressure can occur naturally in persons who exercise regularly, keep a normal weight, and eat a healthy diet. Many experts use the arbitrary criteria of a systolic (top) pressure of 90 or lower or a diastolic (bottom) pressure of 60 or less to be the cutoff levels used to define low blood pressure. But in some cases, low blood pressure accompanies certain medical conditions and may be a sign of life-threatening illness.

Low blood pressure may be a sign of multiple conditions, including dehydration, severe infection with septic shock, endocrine (hormonal) conditions, some heart diseases, and taking certain medications. Psychological stress is not a known cause of abnormally low blood pressure.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE:

"Stress"
Medline Plus
U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2017

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