Do You Have Low Blood Pressure? Here’s How to Find Out

Low blood pressure can present with various symptoms. Not taking steps to manage the condition can impair daily function and be life-threatening.

Blood pressure monitor with a reading of 84/57 mmHg

Low blood pressure (hypotension) is indicative of your blood pressure dropping below the normal range. Healthcare providers generally define hypotension as 90/60 mmHg or below. A condition that occurs both temporarily and over a long period of time, there are four types of hypotension — orthostatic, post-prandial, severe and neurally mediated hypotension. 

High blood pressure (hypertension), meanwhile, is an excessive force of blood pushing against the vessel walls over a sustained duration. Stage 1 or mild hypertension is diagnosed as 130-139/80-89 mmHg. Stage 2 or moderate hypertension as 140/90 mmHg or higher, and a hypertensive crisis as 180/120 mmHg or higher. Hypertension can also be categorised as either a primary or secondary in nature.

Do You Have Hypotension or Hypertension?

Learning if you have hypotension or hypertension can help you determine steps you can take to manage the condition effectively. Let’s find out what your answers suggest.

If your answers are mostly A’s

Woman holding the top of her nose while closing her eyes
Dizziness is a common sign of hypotension.

You potentially have hypotension. In Western medicine, the condition is often an indicator of other concerns. For example, dehydration, blood loss or infection, or heart disease or disorders. Pregnancy and intense emotions like fear and pain can also make you prone to hypotension.

Generally, you can relieve several symptoms of the condition by making a few lifestyle changes. Though, it’s worth noting that the steps you take depend on the type of hypotension you have. These include consuming a diet of smaller, high-sodium meals and lesser carbohydrates, and increasing your intake of water. Wearing compression stockings, focusing on your breathing before you change positions, and getting up slowly after sitting or lying down is also useful. 

According to Eu Yan Sang Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician Vong U Chan, the condition relates to a blood and qi deficiency syndrome. Because of this, the blood that circulates in your vessels will be insufficient to push against the arterial walls. This will prevent your body from maintaining normal blood pressure. A lack of blood and qi also relates to disharmonies of the kidney, heart and spleen.

For these reasons, physician Vong recommends the use of herbs that can warm the Heart, nourish blood and qi, and tonify Spleen and Kidney yang. “In terms of TCM herbs, Codonopsis (Dangshen, 党参), astragalus root (Huangqi, 黄芪) and white atractylodes rhizome (Baizhu, 白术) can tonify the Spleen and boost qi. Chinese Angelica (Danggui, 当归), Rehmannia glutinosa Shudi, 熟地) and red sage (Danshen, 丹参) can help to nourish blood and increase circulation”, explains physician Vong.

If your answers are mostly B’s

Man pressing his hands against his chest.
Untreated hypertension can increase your risk of a heart attack.

You are at high risk of hypertension. Clinically, certain factors can increase your risk of developing the condition. These are excessive weight gain, lack of exercise, or a family history of diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

Untreated hypertension can lead to more severe health issues like eye damage, a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease or failure. In some cases, pregnant women with hypertension can also experience pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia. 

As such, you should eat low-calorie foods, or foods that have less salt or fat. If you wish, you can add taste to your meals with flavouring, herbs and spices. To treat hypertension, it’s also possible that a professional will prescribe medications like Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers and diuretics. 

TCM perceives hypertension to be founded on a yin deficiency, yang hyperactivity in the superficiality, and phlegm-dampness and blood stasis penetrating all along. Heat syndrome, too — liver fire, heart fire, stomach fire, and intestinal fire — can be found during various stages of hypertension. Gastrodia and Gambir Plant Decoction (Tianma Gouteng Yin) is suitable for addressing a yin deficiency and yang hyperactivity. You can use a decoction of Gentian Root for Purging Liver Fire (Longdan Xie Gan Tang) to calm liver fire. Gardenia and Prepared Soybean Decoction (Zhi Zi Dou Chi Tang) helps with heart fire. You can put out stomach fire with a White Tiger Decoction (Bai Hu Tang, which contains prepared licorice root, anemarrhena rhizomes, gypsum and non-glutinous japonica rice), whereas you can treat intestinal fire with Major Bupleurum Decoction (Da Chai Hu Tang). 

Recognising the signs of low and high blood pressure will go a long way in helping you live a normal life. Do also seek a detailed diagnosis that ascertains that you’re experiencing either condition. If you’re considering TCM medication for either condition, speak to a licensed practitioner beforehand. If this quiz has helped you discover if you have either problem, pass it on to your loved ones!

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension).  [Accessed 15 December 2021] 
  2. Cleveland Clinic. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). [online]  [Accessed 15 December 2021] 
  3. Hindawi. 2011. Control Strategy on Hypertension in Chinese Medicine[online]  [Accessed 15 December 2021]

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