Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Hypotension means blood pressure is currently or permanently low, i.e. below 100/60 mmHg.

Overview

Hypotension means blood pressure is currently or permanently low, i.e. below 100/60 mmHg. This can lead to dizziness, nausea and paleness. Persons with low blood pressure feel tired, have a rapid heartbeat and a tendency to faint. The cause cannot always be identified, but various underlying diseases, such as heart problems, anaemia and infections, can lead to hypotension.

Symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tendency to faint (brief fainting spells, known as syncope)
  • Fatigue, listlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Shivering, cold feet and hands

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Primary hypotension
    • Unknown cause (“idiopathic”)
    • Genetic (constitution), typical: young and slim
  • Secondary hypotension (with cause/underlying disease)
  • Dysregulation of (autonomic) nervous system
    • Nerve damage (e.g. stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s, MS)
    • Standing for too long
    • Heat exhaustion
    • Sudden change in body position from sitting/lying to standing up
    • Startle response, fear
    • Smells, pain, unusual psychological sensations

Complications

  • Injuries caused by falling/fainting
  • Sudden extreme drop in blood pressure
    • Life-threatening shock situation
    • Extreme form of secondary hypotension
    • Impaired flow of blood to vital organs
    • Organ failure

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • (Long-term) measurement of blood pressure
  • Physical examination and tests (e.g. Schellong test)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG), if necessary
  • Further diagnostic tests to exclude a cause
Possible therapies
  • Medication
  • Herbal remedies
  • Physiotherapy, if necessary
  • Treatment of underlying disease

What can I do myself?

  • Stimulate circulation
    • Alternating cold and hot baths, Kneipp therapy
    • Exercise, sport
  • Sufficient fluid intake
    • Water, unsweetened tea
    • Amount (rule of thumb): 30-40ml per kg body weight and day; i.e. approx. 1.5–3 litres
  • Eat more salty food, if necessary
  • How to treat a sudden collapse
    • Lie patient down flat (the floor is also suitable)
    • Elevate the legs
    • Open tight clothing
    • If there’s no immediate improvement: call emergency number 144

When to see a doctor?

Synonyms

low blood pressure, hypotension, blood pressure, low, hypotonia, arterial hypotension

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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