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What are Hypotension Symptoms?

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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2016
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Hypotension, or low blood pressure, occurs when an individual’s blood pressure falls below his or her normal levels. Since what may be considered low blood pressure for one person may be high for another, it is difficult to determine whether the condition is benign or indicative of a more serious problem without further evaluation and testing. Symptoms may vary by degree and presentation depending on the individual. Considering there is no established treatment for alleviating hypotension symptoms, individuals are encouraged to independently take proactive measures to raise their blood pressure, which may include implementing dietary and behavioral changes. If one's blood pressure remains low, the regular use of prescription medication may be necessary to stabilize his or her blood pressure.

Initial signs of episodic hypotension can cause someone to experience lightheadedness, dizziness, and impaired vision. It is not uncommon to have hypotension symptoms when a person suddenly stands after sitting for a long period of time, a condition known as orthostatic hypotension. Low blood pressure may induce feelings of nausea, pronounced fatigue, and excessive thirst. Individuals may also develop clammy skin, paleness, and shallow respiration.

Mild hypotension symptoms are usually considered a normal occurrence that may happen episodically to anyone of any age. It is when symptoms progress in severity and frequency that a more serious, underlying problem may be present. Monitoring signs and recording their frequency, including time of day, severity, and situation, can be useful in determining a cause.

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Severe hypotension symptoms can increase one’s chances for severe and life-threatening complications. Prolonged oxygen deprivation, as may occur in the presence of low blood pressure, can compromise proper organ function. For instance, lightheadedness is generally indicative of momentary oxygen deprivation within the brain. If the brain is deprived of oxygen long enough, irreversible damage may occur. When hypotension symptoms are ignored, despite their severity, individuals possess an increased risk for significant organ damage and may go into shock.

A diagnosis of hypotension is generally made through the administration of a variety of diagnostic tests. Individuals may undergo a series of blood pressure tests to establish if there is a pattern to their low readings and their severity. An electrocardiogram (ECG) and stress test may be used to evaluate the electrical conductivity, rhythm, and overall condition of the heart. Blood tests may also be employed to determine if there is an underlying neurological or physiological cause for the individual’s low blood pressure.

The goal of treatment for hypotension is to restore the individual’s blood pressure to a stable, acceptable level. In instances where the hypotension seems idiopathic, dietary changes, such as increasing sodium intake, may be implemented. Behavioral changes, such as adopting the habit of drinking more water throughout the day, may also prove beneficial in restoring normal blood pressure. Medications may also be used to help increase the volume of blood and stabilize blood pressure.

Blood pressure is essentially the force used to circulate blood through the arteries. When evaluating one’s blood pressure, two numbers, systolic and diastolic, are considered as a whole to determine whether one’s arterial pressure is high, normal, or low. It is essential to remember that though there is an established standard for interpreting blood pressure, minor variances may occur from one individual to another depending on physiological and genetic factors.

Though in most cases hypotension occurs idiopathically, meaning there is no reason for its presentation, there are several factors that may induce one’s blood pressure to fall below his or her normal range. The presence of disease, infection, and dietary deficiencies are most commonly associated with the manifestation of hypotension symptoms. Frequently, the regular use of certain medications, such as diuretics and beta blockers, may also adversely affect one’s blood pressure, causing it to dip below normal levels and necessitating a change in dose or discontinuation of the drug.

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