Low blood pressure: what to do when your circulation makes you faint-headed


Low blood pressure is usually harmless. Nevertheless, it can reduce a person’s quality of life. What helps best to prevent low blood pressure.

Is low blood pressure dangerous?

Two pieces of good news first: firstly, low blood pressure (hypotension) reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. One reason for this is that the walls of the blood vessels are exposed to less tension, which spares and protects them. Secondly, it’s possible to live with low blood pressure and not experience any problems. But those who do have problems often find this greatly affects their lifestyle. And that’s the bad news.

Low blood pressure doesn’t necessarily cause unpleasant symptoms.

Helpful tips for low blood pressure & poor circulation

  1. Stand up slowly and carefully to avoid a circulatory collapse.
  2. Start the day with exercises that promote blood circulation (vein or muscle pump): for example, while lying down, bend your legs and “ride a bike in the air”; while sitting, quickly circle your feet, in one direction and then in the other.
  3. Boost your circulation with alternating showers or brush massages.
  4. Drink plenty of water or unsweetened herbal tea.
  5. Salty drinks like vegetable broth are also permitted, as well as the odd cup of black tea or coffee.
  6. If these preventive measures don’t suffice, medication to raise blood pressure can be helpful.

What to avoid

If you have low blood pressure, avoid standing in the blazing sun for long periods of time. Heat can put additional strain on the circulation, as high temperatures cause the blood vessels to further dilate. Following a few simple preventive rules can help.

Possible symptoms of low blood pressure

  • pale skin
  • cold hands and feet
  • sweating
  • visual impairment
  • concentration difficulties
  • rapid pulse and palpitations
  • ringing in the ears
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • dizziness

Types of hypotension (low blood pressure)

Experts distinguish between three different types of hypotension. The type of hypotension is determined by its cause.

Primary hypotension

Primary hypotension is the most common type. In this case blood pressure values are constantly low. The exact cause is still unknown. It probably has to do with the person’s physique and/or physical condition, as it often affects young, slim women, pregnant women, young people in a growth spurt or older, lean people.

Secondary hypotension

Secondary hypotension is the result of other medical conditions, some of which are severe, such as cardiac insufficiency or hormonal disorders. A diseased nervous system can also be the cause of low blood pressure. Or sometimes it’s a side effect of medication.

Orthostatic hypotension

A special form of hypotension is orthostatic hypotension. A typical symptom is dizziness when standing up. Usually, the symptoms subside again after a short time. Also: “Long-time sufferers know the symptoms and have developed strategies for them,” says Alexander Tarnutzer, Head of Neurology at the Cantonal Hospital Baden.

When to see a doctor

It's advisable to consult a doctor if the symptoms are new, long-lasting or very severe, for example if someone regularly loses consciousness (fainting). In the case of secondary hypotension, it’s also important to look for the causes and treat them.

Taking blood pressure correctly

From the age of 18, we should all get our blood pressure measured at least once a year: either at a doctor’s practice, a pharmacy, or at home. If you measure your blood pressure yourself, there are a few things to note.

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