Low blood pressure can affect your breathing – ‘Most common’ signs to look out for
Dr Hilary Jones on investigating the causes of breathlessness
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Hypotension or low blood pressure is defined strictly by medical professionals. It is when your blood pressure is under 90/60mm/Hg in a blood pressure test. If this happens, parts of your body might be unable to get enough blood to them. In the worst cases, your heart, brain, and other vital organs may not receive enough oxygen to function.
The most well-accounted for symptoms of the condition include dizziness and fainting in some cases.
But you may also notice that you struggle with breathing that appears as “fast, shallow breathing”, describes the Cleveland Clinic.
The health body suggests this symptom occurs because your brain isn’t getting enough blood flow.
However, according to one study, “extremely low blood pressure” may also bring about heavy, rapid breathing.
“The increased oxygen demands of the body will try to be met by breathing heavily and rapidly,” says one study published in the journal Circulation.
Shortness of breath can also be a sign of many other severe, and less severe illnesses so it may be worth seeking emergency care.
But according to the Cleveland Clinic, fainting and dizziness are the most important signs to look out for: “If you don’t know you have hypotension, you should see a healthcare provider if you have repeated dizziness or fainting episodes.
“Those symptoms are possible with many other health conditions, some dangerous.”
There are many causes of low blood pressure – some less common than others. Simply standing too quickly can cause your body to temporarily experience low blood pressure.
In other cases, prescription drugs may bring on low blood pressure, such as drugs to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, or depression.
It’s worth noting that extreme temperatures, such as being too hot can make the effects of low blood pressure worse.
If you know that you already suffer from hypotension and your symptoms are affecting your daily routine.
Other symptoms to look out for include the following:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Feeling lethargic
- Confusion or trouble concentrating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred or distorted vision.
How can you treat low blood pressure yourself? (may require medical guidance)
There are a few simple things you can do that can increase your blood pressure safely if it is caused by a temporary problem.
Consuming more salt is one of these ways. Although most guidance about salt is related to limiting it, increasing salt intake with low blood pressure may help to raise your blood pressure safely.
However, it is important to check with your care provider before you increase your salt intake.
Drinking more water may also help. Dehydration is a major cause of low blood pressure.
Mayo Clinic also recommends compression stockings – elastic clothing that can improve blood flow from your legs to your heart.
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