When it comes to blood pressure, have you got your finger on the pulse?
Your heart is a pump that beats steadily and continuously, pumping your blood throughout your body. To maintain this flow of blood, there must be pressure in your circulatory system. This is referred to as your blood pressure.
While some people naturally have low blood pressure – it’s often a sign of being fit and healthy –sometimes blood pressure falls lower than is normal for you (hypotension). We spoke with Dr Andrew Thornber, Chief Medical Officer at Now Patient, to uncover the facts about low blood pressure.
What is low blood pressure?
Your blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and consists of two numbers: the higher number refers to systolic pressure. This is the force with which your heart pumps blood around your body. The lower number refers to diastolic pressure. This is the resistance to the blood flow in your blood vessels. Normal blood pressure is considered to be a reading between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
‘Low blood pressure is a reading of 90/60mmHg or less,’ explains Dr Thornber. ‘It doesn’t always cause symptoms, but you may need treatment if it does.’
What causes low blood pressure?
There are many different causes of low blood pressure, and these vary from person to person.
‘It could be something that you have inherited,’ explains Dr Thornber, ‘or it could be down to the fact that you’re fit and healthy. Your blood pressure might vary throughout the day, too. Low blood pressure is often common in people who are pregnant, have diabetes or are on medication, and it can also be a consequence of getting older.’
Symptoms of low blood pressure
Dr Thornber reveals that if you are suffering from low blood pressure, you are likely to experience the following symptoms:
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Generally feeling weak
If you have postural hypotension, you may only experience the above symptoms when you stand up quickly or suddenly change position.
What can you do about low blood pressure?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, Dr Thornber recommends the following course of action:
🔸 If you’re having symptoms on a regular basis, make sure you see your GP for a blood pressure check. If you’re aged between 40 and 74 years old, you should have your blood pressure checked at least once every five years as part of the NHS Health Check.
🔸 Lifestyle changes are usually the best way to help control low blood pressure.
🔸 Always move slowly when standing up from a seated or lying position.
🔸 Eat small, frequent meals. Lying down or sitting still for a while after eating may also help.
🔸 Increase the amount of water you drink.