A patient recently came to me because he was frequently lightheaded and could not figure out why. Lightheadedness is a symptom associated with many different conditions, but it took almost no time to figure out what was causing the trouble. As soon as I saw his blood pressure reading, I suspected that this patient was dealing with hypotension.
Hypotension is the name for low blood pressure. Doctors like to see blood pressure readings of 120/80 or lower for optimal heart health, but if the numbers dip below 90/60, you may be diagnosed with hypotension.
If you are reading this and struggling with high blood pressure, you probably think having low numbers isn’t much of a problem. In fact, some people can have consistently low blood pressure and be perfectly healthy. This is often the case for athletes and regular exercisers, nonsmokers, and those who stay slim by eating a healthy diet.
Low blood pressure is only a problem if you display symptoms, like my patient who was feeling dizzy and lightheaded. Let’s look at the symptoms and causes of hypotension and discuss some natural solutions to the problem.
A Wide Array of Symptoms and Causes
It is true that many symptoms associated with hypotension are very general. However, if a very fit and healthy person is having one of these problems listed below, then I suggest you check out your blood pressure.
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Blurred vision
• Cold, clammy skin
• Trouble breathing
When most doctors treat patients with hypotension, they do their best to treat the underlying cause, not merely the symptoms. Causes of low blood pressure are widely varied. Some are short-term and easy to treat, while others are more complex.
Here are the common causes of hypotension that I’ve encountered in my practice:
1) Age – As you grow older, you are more likely to experience sudden drops in blood pressure when you stand up from a prone position or after eating.
2) Low Heart Rate – This condition is known as bradycardia.
3) Endocrine Conditions – These include thyroid problems, hypoglycemia and diabetes.
4) Dehydration – This often occurs when illness causes a loss of fluids.
5) Blood Loss – This could be either due to severe injury or internal bleeding.
6) Septicemia – This condition occurs when an infection enters the bloodstream.
7) Anaphylaxis – Severe allergic reactions cause this condition.
8 ) Anemia – This is due to a deficiency of vitamin B12 or folate.
9) Pregnancy – Blood pressure can drop as much as 10 to 15 points in pregnant women.
10) Medications and Drugs – Beta blockers, drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease, tricyclic antidepressants, Viagra, narcotics and alcohol can all cause a decrease in blood pressure.
Healthy Answers For A Varied Problem
As you can see from the previous list, hypotension can have many causes that require different treatments. If age is the cause, or if there is not an obvious source of your low pressure, you can try these following natural solutions.
Coenzyme Q10 – This natural ingredient helps keep your heart pumping strong. It is made from pure, cold-water fish oils. Look for supplements that contain 100mg of CoQ10 per serving.
Salt – We hear all the time about not using too much salt because sodium is a culprit in raising blood pressure. If you have hypotension, however, increasing your salt intake may be helpful, but be sure to check with your doctor.
Water – Drink plenty of fluids to increase blood volume and keep your heart pumping strongly. Water also staves off dehydration, another cause of hypotension.
Compression Stockings – These garments increase blood flowing to the heart by keeping blood from collecting in your legs.
Slow Down – Take some deep breaths before getting out of bed or standing up from the dinner table, and go slowly to discourage rapid drops in blood pressure.
Eat Often – Try eating 5 or 6 “mini-meals” throughout the day and make them low-carb (swap white flour products like pasta and bread for whole grain versions) to prevent a rapid decrease in blood pressure.
These strategies should get you well on your way to addressing the problem of hypotension. If you are experiencing the symptoms we talked about, follow my patient’s example and make an appointment with your doctor today. A healthy heart will be your reward!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.