What is Low Blood Pressure? Get Real with What You Can Do About the Condition

A comprehension of what is low blood pressure is important. Identify practical steps you can take to manage the condition.

Woman using a blood pressure reader

What is low blood pressure or hypotension? Simply put, the condition occurs when your blood pressure drops below the normal range. Defined as a reading of 90/60 mmHg or below, it can occur temporarily or over a long period of time.

Here are the different types of hypotension, their accompanying symptoms, and ways to ensure it stays regulated.

Woman holding her forehead as she closes her eyes while standing
Feeling dizzy after you stand is a sign of orthostatic low blood pressure

Differentiating Between the Types of Low Blood Pressure 

The condition can be broken down into four types — orthostatic, post-prandial, shock-related and nerve-mediated. 

Orthostatic low blood pressure 

This disorder induces your blood pressure to drop suddenly when you stand up from a sleeping or seated position. It usually happens more frequently and severely in the morning, when it is at its lowest. This type can also happen to young, healthy adults who stand up suddenly after squatting or sitting cross-legged for long periods.

The most common sign is a feeling of dizziness when you stand. It can also be followed by nausea, blurred vision, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and a feeling of weakness. 

Postprandial low blood pressure 

An excessive decrease in blood pressure after eating a meal is the stand-out characteristic of this disorder. Interestingly, people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) are more susceptible to this specific disorder than others.

People with diseases or conditions that disrupt the brain’s ability to regulate internal processes can also be at risk of this type. For instance, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy can also make you prone to the symptoms of this disorder, such as dizziness, faintness or falls.

Low blood pressure that links to shock 

In a life-threatening medical emergency, shock can trigger a sharp drop in blood pressure. Consequently, this will restrict blood flow to the brain and organs, and limit their ability to function optimally.

Though, medical shock is different from the emotional or psychological shock that occurs after a traumatic, frightening or emotional event. Medical shock may occur following severe blood loss, infections, allergies, trauma and other causes.

Nerve-mediated low blood pressure

People who are diagnosed with this disorder will usually experience dizziness, visual changes, or slower speech or verbal responses after exercising or standing still for a long time.

Also known as a form of chronic orthostatic intolerance, this type is a complication that stems from an unnatural nerve reflex action between the brain and heart despite both organs being structurally normal.

Understanding What is Low Blood Pressure Management

‘SALT’ spelt out in a pile of salt. 
Eating more sodium-rich foods can help increase your blood pressure.

In Western medicine, a healthcare provider will usually prescribe treatment options for hypotension after considering the exact cause of your condition.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, meanwhile, will encourage the use of herbal ingredients or formulations that regulate it by replenishing blood and qi.

Switch up your food consumption 

Dietary changes are important for increasing your blood pressure. Increasing your intake of foods that are rich in sodium — soy sauce and canned ham or tuna — during breakfast is especially effective. Also, ensure that you’re drinking approximately 2-3 litres of water daily to keep it stable. 

Separately, it’s also important that you cut down on foods that digest quickly, such as processed carbohydrates, as they will provoke a sudden drop. It’s also important for you to consider eating smaller, more frequent meals. Overeating will lead to your body spending more energy digesting, and bring on a drop in blood pressure.

Relook your lifestyle 

You can also prevent it from declining by making several adjustments to your daily living. These include wearing compression stockings and getting up slowly after you sit or lie down. You should also avoid standing for long durations, and sit and breathe deeply before getting out of bed. 

It’s also advisable for you to shower in lukewarm water instead of hot water. Hot water can cause your vessels to expand, thereby increasing blood flow and triggering a sudden drop in blood pressure. As such, places like saunas and hot springs are not recommended too as well. 

Use herbal ingredients or formulations 

TCM treatment for low hypotension is centred on using herbs that 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) Rehmannia Glutinosa) and red sage (Danshen, 丹参) meanwhile, can help to nourish blood and increase circulation”, explains Eu Yan Sang physician Vong U Chan. 

However, it’s worth noting that each person has a distinct body constitution. Therefore, you should get a proper assessment from a certified TCM practitioner before consuming herbs that help control it. 

Learning what is hypotension is a pivotal first step in helping you live life to the fullest. If you’re unsure as to the steps you can take to keep your blood pressure regulated, use the tips laid out in this guide.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension). [Accessed 24 December 2021] 
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Low Blood Pressure (Orthostatic Hypotension).  [Accessed 24 December 2021] 
  3. MSD MANUAL. 2020. Postprandial Hypotension.  [Accessed 24 December 2021] 
  4. MedicineNet. 2020. What is Shock?  [Accessed 24 December 2021] 
  5. MEPedia. Neurally mediated hypotension. [Accessed 24 December 2021]

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