While high blood pressure is a contributing risk factor for heart disease, low blood pressure is also a cause for concern. Not only can low pressure cause dizzy spells or fainting, but it can also be an indication of a serious heart, endocrine or neurological disorder.
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers which reflect systolic and diastolic pressure, but what do these numbers mean? Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80. This means a systolic pressure less than 120mm Hg (top number) and diastolic pressure less than 80mm HG (bottom number).
- Systolic measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
- Diastolic measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
How Low is Too Low?
Typically, the lower your blood pressure reading is, the better, UNLESS it reaches a low point to which other symptoms of trouble are present. Although every person is different, low blood pressure is considered less than 90/60.
According to the American Heart Association, low blood pressure may cause the following:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Blurred vision
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Lack of concentration
Chronic low blood pressure which interrupts daily life with any of these symptoms could be a warning sign of a more severe condition like blood loss, an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism), adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease), low blood sugar or diabetes, severe infection, severe allergic reaction, nutritional deficiencies or anemia.
Don't let your blood pressure determine your quality of life.
If you suffer from chronic low blood pressure and experience any of the conditions above, it's important to communicate your concerns with a trusted physician.
Locate a UnityPoint Health physician or clinic near you, and start getting the help you need to manage your blood pressure. Our friendly and knowledgeable professionals will determine the underlying cause and provide the treatment, education and support you need to successfully manage your condition.