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When Is Low Blood Pressure An Emergency And What To Do To Prevent And Manage It?

Low Blood Pressure which is medically termed as hypotension occurs when the blood pressure of a person falls below a certain range. Although there is not set parameter for low blood pressure as it is for high blood pressure and the numbers tend to vary from person to person. However, experts suggest that a blood pressure below 90/60 mmHg is considered to be low. Generally, a low blood pressure is considered to be an indication that the person is healthy. However, when it gets too low that suggests not enough oxygen is reaching the vital organs of the body then it is a cause for concern. This can lead to a variety of complications. Of all the complications, shock is the most serious one.[1,2,3]

A visit to the emergency room is indicated if a person with low blood pressure also has nausea, clammy skin, palpitations, shallow breathing, increased thirst, dizziness, vision problems, issues with focusing on tasks, and fatigue. There are a variety of reasons as to why the blood pressure in a people drops. In females, low blood pressure generally occurs during pregnancy in between the second and the third trimester. Low blood pressure also can occur due to significant blood loss. This usually happens after a severe motor vehicle collision, stab or gunshot wound.[1,2,3]

People who are on prolonged bedrest also tend to develop low blood pressure. People with hypothyroidism also at times develop low blood pressure. Certain antihypertensives and antidepressants also can cause low blood pressure in people.[1,2,3] The article informs in detail as to when low blood pressure becomes an emergency and what can be done about it.

When Is Low Blood Pressure An Emergency?

When Is Low Blood Pressure An Emergency?

There are many cases where low blood pressure is completely asymptomatic and the person may not even be aware of the condition. Additionally, there is no specific reading or range for low blood pressure but generally anything below 90/60 mmHg is considered to be low blood pressure as a standard practice. There are many people who have low blood pressure chronically but still lead a healthy life.[3]

According to American Heart Association, low blood pressure should be considered an emergency only if there are other symptoms associated with it. These set of symptoms come on out of the blue and are quite variable and differ from individual to individual. These symptoms include dizziness, problems focusing and concentrating, loss of consciousness, fatigue, nausea, blurry vision, shallow breathing, and pale skin. In such a scenario, it is best to take the patient to the emergency room for treatment.[3]

Low blood pressure should also be considered as an emergency if the drop is sudden and very significant. This sudden drop in blood pressure indicates that proper blood and oxygen is not reaching the vital organs of the body and there is high likelihood that these organs may start to malfunction or even fail resulting in shock which is an extremely serious condition requiring immediate treatment. There are also certain medical conditions that cause low blood pressure that needs to be regularly monitored and at times may need an emergency room visit.[3]

These conditions include pregnancy, trauma related blood loss, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, certain classes of medications like antihypertensives and antidepressants, cardiovascular conditions, thyroid issues, diabetes, and septic shock. Anaphylactic reaction causing low blood pressure should also be addressed in the emergency room.[3]

How To Prevent And Manage Low Blood Pressure?

Low blood pressure or hypotension is in most cases not a cause of concern. In fact, many people do not even know that they have low blood pressure as it is often asymptomatic. However, if the blood pressure drops drastically low consistently then it should raise an alarm bell as it suggests that adequate supply of blood and oxygen is not reaching the vital organs of the body. This at times may lead to severe potentially life threatening complications like shock.[3]

Experts suggest that low blood pressure is an emergency only when it is accompanied by other symptoms that have been mentioned above. Once the cause of the low blood pressure is managed generally the downward trend of the blood pressure stops. If a person is taking antihypertensives then it is vital for the person to check the blood pressure regularly and if it is noted that the blood pressure is falling very low then a visit to a physician is recommended to ensure that it goes back up in the normal range.[3]

The physician may then change the dosage or suggest an alternative medication for blood pressure control. In majority of the cases, low blood pressure can be managed with simple lifestyle and home remedies. These include staying hydrated especially during the summers or when going out in the hot weather. Just changing the way a person sits or stands may be enough to stop the blood pressure from dropping too low.[3]

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is crucial for maintaining ideal blood pressures. Some people find that wearing compression stockings also help in maintaining normal ranges of blood pressure and preventing it from dropping too low. The recommendations for low blood pressure may vary from person to person depending on the severity of the symptoms. In cases where a person has other symptoms along with low blood pressure then immediate medical attention is warranted.[3]

The physician may inquire about the history of the patient, make do some laboratory investigations, and also may do radiographs to check the internal organs. It is important to note that people with only mild symptoms ar are asymptomatic but have low blood pressure should monitor their numbers regularly and get regular check-ups with the physician to ensure that the blood pressure does not drop more. In most cases, however, low blood pressure is not a cause of worry and seldom requires emergency room admission.[3]

In conclusion, low blood pressure is only an emergency when it causes other symptoms like shallow breathing, clammy or pale skin, problems concentrating or focusing, and dizziness. These conditions occur when the organs of the body do not receive enough blood and oxygen to function normally due to low blood pressure. This may lead to septic shock and thus requires emergency room treatment [1, 2, 3].

However, in majority of the cases low blood pressure does not need emergency care and in fact many experts suggest is a sign of good health. Additionally, there is no set parameter in terms of numbers for low blood pressure but if it drops below 90/60 mmHg then a consultation with a physician is recommended to know the cause and start treatment is required. This is especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms mentioned above. The physician can recommend lifestyle and dietary measures and also suggest other ways to prevent the blood pressure from going down more.[1,2,3]


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2022

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