Sudden Drop in Blood Pressure

Hypotension, or simply low blood pressure, is a condition whereby your blood pressure is not as high as it should be at your age. Blood pressure would normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg according to most physicians. There are people whose blood pressure is normally lower than average. In other people, it could be as a result of a medical condition or medication they are taking. You need not worry if you have low blood pressure as long as you do not exhibit any symptoms. However, experiencing a sudden drop in blood pressure could be dangerous because it affects the blood flow in the body. Seek medical attention immediately when this happens as it could lead to shock, which is a fatal condition.

What Causes a Sudden Drop in Blood Pressure?

Orthostatic Hypotension (Blood Pressure Drop When Standing Up)

Postural or orthostatic hypotension is triggered when you suddenly stand up from a sitting position or from lying down. It can make you feel lighthearted, faint or dizzy. It happens for a number of reasons including hunger, fatigue or dehydration. It can also occur as a result of your genetics, medication, age, diet and psychological factors. In some cases it is caused by allergy and infection. 

The majority of people who suffer from postural hypotension are those taking medications for high blood pressure. This sudden drop in blood pressure is also associated with emotional turmoil, pregnancy, diabetes and the hardening of arteries. Seniors are particularly prone to this condition, especially if they have a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system or high blood pressure. 

How to deal with it: This type of hypotension is usually mild and only lasts a few minutes at most. If it lasts longer than that, then it could be a pointer to an underlying problem. You might need to talk to your doctor about it if you often feel lightheaded when standing up. If at any time you lose consciousness due to orthostatic hypotension, see your doctor urgently. Mild cases of orthostatic hypotension do not need any medical attention and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

Other Possible Causes

A sudden drop in blood pressure can be caused by an anaphylactic allergic reaction. The drop occurs due to the release of a large amount of chemicals such as histamine into the blood stream in response to the presence of an allergen. The chemicals released into your body cause the blood vessels to dilate and resulting in a drop in blood pressure. An anaphylactic reaction could also be accompanied by cramps, hives, redness of the skin and closing of throat. This allergic reaction is considered a medical emergency, and may require an injection of epinephrine to raise blood pressure and facilitate breathing.

The drop in blood pressure could also be resulting from the collapse of the cardiovascular system brought about by excessive loss of blood, extreme temperatures (high or low), heart diseases, blood poisoning (sepsis), and severe dehydration.

How Can I Deal with Low Blood Pressure

Immediate Steps

During an emergency, you should first take immediate steps such as lying with your feet raised above your heart, drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding triggers such as prolonged standing. Also, move your legs when standing. If you notice symptoms of orthostatic hypotension, cross your thighs and squeeze. You could also put one of your feet on a chair or ledge and lean forward. Put on abdominal binders or compression stockings might help reduce the effects of orthostatic hypotension.

Preventive Measures

  • Increase salt intake – Taking salt helps increase blood pressure. This can help resolve the sudden drop in blood pressure. However, this should be done under the instruction of your doctor since taking too much salt can cause the blood pressure to raise to dangerous levels.
  • Increase fluid intake – Staying hydrated throughout the day helps forestall the symptoms of low blood pressure. Avoid taking alcohol as it is dehydrating.
  • Try not to bend at the waist – Whenever you need to pick up something on the floor, squat with your knees instead of bending at the waist.
  • Eat small meals – There are cases where blood pressure drops after eating. If this is the case, you should eat small low-carb meals.
  • Work out – Exercising regularly can help reduce the effects of orthostatic hypotension.
  • Take it slow when getting up – By doing this, you will reduce the feeling of lightheadedness and dizziness. Take deep breathes for several minutes before getting out of bed.
  • Elevate your head when sleeping – You should set up your bed so that your head is always elevated when you sleep. This will reduce the effect of gravity. 

When to Call Your Doctor

Talk to your doctor if you experience a sudden drop in blood pressure accompanied by lightheadedness or dizziness. Take note of how fast your blood pressure drops rather than how much it drops any time you feel dehydrated, spend too much time in the hot tub or in the sun, or have low blood sugar. Keep a diary and record any symptoms and the corresponding activity at the time.

If you have liver or kidney problems, have had a stroke or are at risk of having a stroke, you should have your blood pressure closely monitored. Low blood pressure can interfere with blood supply to your organs and the brain.

 
 
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