Low Blood Pressure

Is low blood pressure bad for your health?

People who have lower blood pressures have a lower risk of stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Athletes, people who exercise regularly, people who maintain ideal body weight, and nonsmokers tend to have lower blood pressures. Low blood pressure is desirable as long as it is not low enough to cause symptoms and damage to the organs in the body.

What are low blood pressure signs and symptoms?

When blood pressure is not sufficient to deliver enough blood to the organs of the body, the organs do not work properly and can be temporarily or permanently damaged. For example, if insufficient blood flows to the brain, brain cells do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, and a person can feel lightheaded, dizzy, or even faint.

Going from a sitting or lying position to a standing position often brings out symptoms of low blood pressure. This occurs because standing causes blood to "settle" in the veins of the lower body, and this can lower the blood pressure. If the blood pressure is already low, standing can make the low pressure worse, to the point of causing symptoms. The development of lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting upon standing caused by low blood pressure is called orthostatic hypotension. Normal individuals are able to compensate rapidly for the low pressure created by standing with the responses discussed previously and do not develop orthostatic hypotension.

When there is insufficient blood pressure to deliver blood to the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart's muscle), a person may develop chest pain (a symptom of angina) or even a heart attack.

When insufficient blood is delivered to the kidneys, the kidneys fail to eliminate wastes from the body, for example, urea (BUN) and creatinine, and increases in their levels in the blood occur.

Shock is a life-threatening condition where persistently low blood pressure causes organs such as kidney(s), liver, heart, lung(s), and brain to fail rapidly.

Reviewed on 5/23/2013