So You Have Low Blood Pressure. Now What?

nurse taking blood pressure of a young woman with a blood pressure cuff

If your doctor talks to you about your blood pressure, the conversation is likely to focus on high blood pressure. High blood pressure is known as “the silent killer,” and an estimated one third of Americans have it. Half of those people are not controlling their high blood pressure, and it can have deadly consequences. But there is also such a thing as low blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure may show in numbers from 90/60 to 140/90. Anything lower than 90/60 is considered low blood pressure. 

Symptoms of low blood pressure

Low blood pressure readings with no symptoms may not be a problem at all. But sometimes low blood pressure can have symptoms. Dizziness, tiredness, confusion, weakness, and nausea can all be caused by low blood pressure. 

This is because the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen from the blood. 

Some people experience these symptoms only when they stand from a sitting or lying position. This is a condition called orthostatic hypotension. Your doctor can check for this by taking your blood pressure while you are lying down, while you are sitting, and then as soon as you stand. If your blood pressure falls significantly when you change positions, this may be your diagnosis. 

Suddenly standing can be the problem here. Changing positions more gradually can be the solution. 

Treatment for low blood pressure

There are medications that raise blood pressure, such as fludrocortisone, which increases sodium in your system, and midodrine, which tightens blood vessels.

However, you may find that you can treat low blood pressure with home remedies. Wear compression stockings, for example. High socks or stockings with 30mmHg are also known as “medical grade” compression stockings. The term “mmHG” is a measurement of pressure. It stands for milligrams of mercury, but you may never need to know that. Just remember the number 30 when you shop for compression stockings. 

You can also increase your salt intake to raise blood pressure. You could just be liberal with a salt shaker, but there are also nutritious foods that are high in sodium:

  • cheese
  • salmon
  • sauerkraut
  • slated nuts
  • olives
  • tomato juice

Make sure to drink plenty of water.

Monitor your blood pressure

If you tend to have low blood pressure, you should add regular blood pressure tracking to your self-care routine. Use an at-home blood pressure cuff or try the blood pressure monitor at your local grocer or drugstore. 

You might find that your blood pressure is lower after a meal, when you stand up suddenly, or under some other circumstances. If you notice a pattern, let your doctor know. 

Do you need a primary care provider? MANA’s Find a Doctor page will help you identify the right physician for your needs.

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