- Who Is At Risk
- Diagnosis and Treatment
What is low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is defined as any level of blood pressure that falls below normal levels.
Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood as it flows through your arteries. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
The lowest blood pressure considered normal is 90/60 mm Hg. The top number is called systolic pressure, which is measured when your heart beats. The second number is called diastolic pressure and is your blood pressure between heartbeats.
Many older adults live with some amount of hypotension without knowing it.
A number of things can cause low blood pressure. Some people with high blood pressure, or hypertension, can accidentally create low blood pressure while treating their condition.
Medications and diets intended to treat high blood pressure can sometimes cause low blood pressure as a side effect.
Low blood pressure can also be caused by:
- Standing for long periods
- Thyroid disease
- Internal bleeding
Hypotension is often treated through changes to your diet. These will usually try to elevate your salt levels and increase your blood flow.
Who is at risk for low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure can happen to anyone at any age. There are several factors that can predispose some people to it more than others, including:
- Common medications for conditions like diabetes and Parkinson’s disease can cause low blood pressure as a side effect.
- Diuretics that reduce the body’s salt levels can cause low blood pressure as a side effect.
- Some older adults develop postprandial hypotension, a condition in which blood pressure suddenly drops about one or two hours after eating.
How is low blood pressure diagnosed and treated?
People quite often don’t know they have low blood pressure until their doctor tells them during a routine checkup. Your doctor may advise you at that time to add more salt to your diet.
If more direct intervention is needed, you could be prescribed medication or even given an intravenous (IV) line to relieve dehydration.
Foods as a treatment for low blood pressure
Lack of nutrition plays a large role in cases of low blood pressure.
Not getting enough iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 can prevent your body from making the right amount of blood cells. This can cause anemia and low blood pressure.
Dehydration is one of the main causes of low blood pressure. Insufficient water levels actually reduce your blood volume. This reduction then lowers your blood pressure levels.
Doctors recommend people with low blood pressure should drink around 8 cups, about a half-gallon, of water per day. They should also limit their consumption of alcohol.
The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant. This means that it can raise your heart rate and blood pressure levels. Drinking coffee can be helpful in the short-term fix, but it isn’t a permanent solution. Most people develop a tolerance to caffeine over time.
Beef liver is one of the best sources of vitamin B12. A 100 gram serving of liver contains an incredibly high amount of B12.
Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause anemia and low blood pressure.
A single egg contains high amounts of folic acid and B12.
Like vitamin B12, folic acid is an important aid for raising low blood pressure levels.
Red meat is one of the most widely available sources of iron, which is needed for raising blood pressure levels.
Beef has one of the highest iron contents that you will find in food.
Although some doctors recommend avoiding red meat, someone with low blood pressure may actually benefit from adding more of it to their diet.
There are many other foods that will help increase your salt, vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron levels. These include:
- Cottage cheese
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What are the risks of low blood pressure?
While many don’t notice low blood pressure, it can cause some potentially serious problems if left untreated. Blood pressure that drops too low can cause:
- Blurry vision
- Heart palpitations
Blood pressure that continues to drop is a medical emergency. Very low blood pressure keeps your vital organs from receiving oxygen and may lead to shock.
Signs to watch out for are rapid breathing, blue skin tone, and a rapid pulse. Call 911 if you notice any of these.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Manhattan Cardiology: “What to Eat to Help Raise Low Blood Pressure.”
Mayo Clinic: “Low blood pressure (hypotension).”
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Low Blood Pressure.”
St. Clair Hospital: “Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension).”
USDA: “Beef, Ground, 85% Lean Meat / 15% Fat, Loaf, Cooked, Baked.”
USDA: “Beef, Variety Meats and By-products, Liver, Cooked, Braised.”
USDA: “Egg, Whole, Cooked, Hard-boiled.”
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