Caregiver.com

For About and By Caregivers
 
Blood Pressure: Itís a Balancing Act

 

Most people hear about all the symptoms and side effects of high blood pressure. The opposite end of the spectrum can be just as daunting if not kept in check.  Low blood pressure is desirable in many cases, unless the reading is too low.  Low blood pressure can cause major damage to organs, especially the brain.

When the pressure is not enough to deliver blood to the bodyís organs, they will not work properly and can become temporarily and even permanently damaged. With the brain, a low blood pressure limits oxygen, causing lightheadedness, dizziness and faintness.  Other examples of low blood pressure dangers include affects on kidneys, which will be unable to eliminate wastes from the body, or on the arteries, which will decrease blood supply to the heart and may result in heart attack.

ďShockĒ is the result when low blood pressure becomes life threatening after persisting for a long time. Caregivers need to know when low blood pressure needs to be addressed by a medical professional, and ways to keep the body working at its maximum capacity.

Here are some common causes of low blood pressure, which is most common in people over the age of 65:

1)      Dehydration
2)      Moderate or severe bleeding
3)      Severe inflammation or infection of organs
4)      Heart disease
5)      Medications

Here are some symptoms a loved one may be exhibiting if experiencing chronic low blood pressure:

1)      Dizziness or lightheadedness
2)      Fainting
3)      Lack of concentration
4)      Blurred vision
5)      Nausea
6)      Cold, clammy and pale skin
7)      Rapid, shallow breathing
8)      Fatigue
9)      Depression
10)   Thirst

Many times low blood pressure isnít serious. However, if a caregiver sees a trend of low readings and the symptoms above in their loved one, itís time to seek medical attention. Sometimes these small symptoms all add up to a larger, more serious problem.

So, how low is low? There is no good answer, as every personís normal is unique. Many experts believe that 115/75 is optimal, and low to be 90/60. Only one of the numbers has to be in the low range to be considered ďlow blood pressure.Ē 
A caregiver can help a loved one prevent low blood pressure by implementing these simple home practices, recommended by Mayo Clinic.

  1. Drink more water. Fluids increase blood volume and prevent dehydration; so important for those with low blood pressure.
  2. Follow a healthy diet.
  3. Go slowly when changing body positions. This will reduce dizziness. Mayo recommends a person with low blood pressure take a few deep breaths before sitting up in bed, then rising slowly. An elevated position for the head also helps the effects of gravity.
  4. Eat small, low-carb meals. This helps limit the trend of blood pressure dropping sharply after meals. Drinking caffeinated coffee or tea with meals may also help increase blood pressure during that time.
  5. Use more salt. Many people are encouraged to limit their salt intake. For someone with low blood pressure, however, salt can be a good thing. Make sure a loved one checks with their doctor about the amount of salt to use, depending on other health conditions.
  6. Wear compression stockings. This helps relieve the blood that pools in veins and increase blood flow throughout the body.
  7. Medications. Several medications are available to treat low blood pressure. Make sure a loved one consults their physician for any possible medication benefits.

Low blood pressure is something that can be recognized and treated early on. As a caregiver, itís important to have a basic knowledge of the symptoms and also ways to maintain healthy blood pressure for a loved one. High or low, it is essential to the bodyís well-being.

 Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter