Unlike high blood pressure symptoms, which are poorly defined and often totally absent, low blood pressure has several classic, easily recognized symptoms. The development of symptoms is considered an indicator that a patient should be evaluated to discover the cause of the low blood pressure and to rule out any underlying problems. Generally, blood pressure must fall to a fairly low value before symptoms develop.
Clincally, the value most often associated with the development of symptoms is 90/60, though this varies from person to person. Situations where the blood pressure drops rapidly, rather than exists chronically at a low level, do not require the blood pressure to drop to 90/60 before symptoms develop. Instead, changes of about 20mmHg from baseline blood pressure have been shown to cause classic low blood pressure symptoms.
Classic symptoms of low blood pressure include:
- Dizziness, or feeling like you’re standing on a rocking boat
- Changes in mental status (difficulty concentrating, confusion) or a sense of "impending doom" or anxiety
- Changes in breathing patterns (fast, shallow breathing is common during an episode of low blood pressure)
- Suddenly feeling cold or clammy, or a rapid onset of pale skin
While all of these symptoms indicate that a visit to the doctor is needed, fainting or ongoing dizziness are especially alarming and warrant an immediate visit to either your own doctor or to the emergency room. If you experience fainting along with nausea, chest pain, or any type of weakness/numbness in your body, you should call 911 immediately. These symptoms may be indicators of stroke, heart attack, or dangerous problems with the nervous system.
More About Low Blood Pressure:
- Christensen KL, Mulvany MJ. Vasodilatation, Not Hypotension, Improves Resistance Vessel Design During Treatment of Essential Hypertension: A Literature Survey.Journal of Hypertension. 2001 Jun;19(6):1001-6.
- Palma Gamiz JL, et al. Iberian Multicenter Imidapril Study on Hypertension: A twelve-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, noninferiority trial of the antihypertensive efficacy and tolerability of imidapril and candesartan in adult patients with mild to moderate essential hypertension: the Iberian Multicenter Imidapril Study on Hypertension (IMISH).
- Shin DD, et al. Review of Current and Investigational Pharmacologic Agents for Acute Heart Failure syndromes. American Journal of Cardiology. 2007 Jan 22;99(2A):4A-23A.
- Verheij J, et al. Cardiac response is greater for colloid than saline fluid loading after cardiac or vascular surgery. Intensive Care Medicine. 2006 Jul;32(7):1030-8.
- Eldadah BA, et al. Failure of propranolol to prevent tilt-evoked systemic vasodilatation, adrenaline release and neurocardiogenic syncope. Clinical Science (London). 2006 Sep;111(3):209-16.
- Naschitz JE, Slobodin G, Elias N, Rosner I. The patient with supine hypertension and orthostatic hypotension: a clinical dilemma.Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2006 Apr;82(966):246-53.
- Tipre DN, Goldstein DS. Cardiac and extracardiac sympathetic denervation in Parkinson's disease with orthostatic hypotension and in pure autonomic failure. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 2005 Nov;46(11):1775-81.
- Peacock WF 4th, et al. Observation unit treatment of heart failure with nesiritide: results from the proaction trial.
Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2005 Oct;29(3):243-52.