Your couch isn’t exactly a roller coaster and your living room isn’t an amusement park. But when you stood up too fast the other day, you almost fell over from the dizziness. Are you watching too much TV? Not getting enough sleep? Is Mercury’s retrograde throwing off your cosmic balance? Don’t worry, most of the world has had this sensation at least a few times.
If you’re older than 25, then you’ve heard of hypertension or high blood pressure. Maybe you’ve cut back on salty foods and red meat to avoid high blood pressure. But the dizziness you felt when standing up is described as orthostatic hypotension, a type of situational low blood pressure. So, do you need to be concerned about hypotension? Before you throw a few more burgers on the grill to compensate, listen to this advice from Jason Hatch, MD, a cardiologist at Banner Health in Colorado.
Dr. Hatch started by explaining that there is a range for healthy blood pressure. If your blood pressure is on the low end, that isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. “Low blood pressure is very common in smaller people,” said Dr. Hatch. “Younger people also tend to have lower blood pressure. In almost every case, if you’re otherwise healthy, low blood pressure is not something you need to be worried about. But it is important for us to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues causing the hypotension.”
Low blood pressure might just be part of how your body operates. But there are a few common causes that you can control. Dr. Hatch listed a few possibilities that he considers when speaking with otherwise healthy patients.
- Some medications, like diuretics, can lead to low blood pressure.
- Poor hydration can lower the blood volume in your body.
- Adrenal deficiencies, an imbalance of hormones, could be causing your blood pressure to drop.
- Cardiac issues like an arrhythmia or inflammation.
- Some diets that ignore healthy amounts of sodium.
Many of the causes behind hypotension are out of your control. For example, age is a large factor in determining your blood pressure. Among the general population, only 6% of people will have low blood pressure. However, rates of orthostatic hypotension are much more common in older adults, affecting as much as 30% of that group.
If you are hypotensive, getting dizzy when you stand up might not be your only symptom. Dr. Hatch listed a few of the most common complaints he hears from patients with very low blood pressure.
- Shortness of breath
- Occasional nausea
- Passing out
Over time, in serious cases of hypotension, internal issues can occur. Low blood pressure can deprive your organs of healthy blood flow and lead to more serious complications. If you are experiencing these symptoms together and/or regularly, you should speak with a doctor.
What to Do
“How do you feel?” asked Dr. Hatch. “This is one of the most important questions I ask my patients with low blood pressure. Just because your numbers are a little low doesn’t mean that you are necessarily in danger. If you feel strong, healthy and happy, my recommendation will usually be to stay active, eat well and get plenty of sleep. But if you are experiencing symptoms like the ones above, it may be time to intervene.”
In most cases, your treatments for hypotension will include simple lifestyle changes. To make a plan that’s right for you, schedule an appointment with a Banner Health expert.