Low blood pressure – types, causes, symptoms and risk factors

Low blood pressure symptom and causes

Low blood pressure is also known as hypotension. When the blood pressure in your arteries is abnormally low, then this condition is known as low blood pressure. Low blood pressure is unlikely to cause any symptoms and in many cases there is nothing for which you should be worried. But if your blood pressure drops to low, then it can restrict the amount of blood flowing to your brain and other vital organs which can cause fainting, dizziness or unsteadiness. If you experience any symptoms of the low blood pressure and you are concerned about them, then you need to talk with your doctor. All adults should have checked their blood pressure at regular basis, at least every 5 years. If you have not measured your blood pressure, then you need to ask your doctor to check it.

Symptoms of low blood pressure

If your blood pressure is naturally low, then in most cases it causes not any symptoms or they require treatment. But also there are some cases in which this condition can mean that there is not enough blood flow to your brain and other vital organs which can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Confusion
  • Heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable (palpitations)
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Unsteadiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • General weakness

If you think that you may be experiencing an episode of low blood pressure, then you should stop what you are doing. You should sit or lie down and then you should drink some water. In the most cases these symptoms will pass after a few seconds or minutes.

Causes of low blood pressure

There are many possible causes for low blood pressure which can vary from underlying health conditions, medical condition to lifestyle choices. Also there are some cases in which this can be a result of being healthy and active or a tendency that you have inherited from your parents. It is normal for our blood pressure to vary depending on what we are doing throughout the day. Our diet, the temperature outside and stress at work could affect our blood pressure. This is a reason why our blood pressure should be checked under similar conditions each time to ensure that our results are consistent. If your blood pressure is low, then your doctor will first consider whether it has been affected by:

  • If you have recently eaten: Our blood is diverted to the gut when our food needs to be digested so our blood pressure elsewhere in our body falls. [1]
  • Temperature: A warm temperature can cause our blood pressure to fall. [2]
  • How much exercise you do: When we exercise, then the exercise will raise our blood pressure, but if we are healthy and exercise regularly, then our blood pressure will be low when we are resting. [3]
  • How stressed or relaxed you are: The more relaxed we are the lower blood pressure we have. [4]
  • The time of day: Blood pressure is normally lower overnight while we are sleeping. It raises a few hours before we wake up and continues to rise during the day. It is reaching its highest at mid – afternoon.

Low blood pressure symptom and causes

Low blood pressure

Risk factors: Low blood pressure can happen in every single person but there are some types of low blood pressure which are more common depending on the age or other factors such as:

  • Certain diseases: There are some diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and other heart conditions which increase your risk for developing low blood pressure. [5]
  • Medications: People who take some medications, for example, high blood pressure medications such as alpha blockers, have an increased risk of having low blood pressure.
  • Age: Drops in blood pressure on standing or after eating occur primarily in people who are older than 65. Neutrally mediated hypotension is affecting younger adults and children. [6]
Types of low blood pressure:
  • Low blood pressure on standing up – orthostatic or postural hypotension
  • Low blood pressure after eating – postprandial hypotension
  • Low blood pressure from faulty brain signals – neurally mediated hypotension
  • Low blood pressure due to nervous system damage – multiple system atrophy with orthostatic hypotension

Complications: Even moderate forms of low blood pressure can cause fainting, weakness, dizziness can cause a risk of injury from falls. The severely low blood pressure can deprive your body of enough oxygen to carry out its normal functions which can lead to damage to your brain and heart.


[1] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Low blood pressure. Retrieved from www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/low-blood-pressure

[2] Xu D, Zhang Y, Wang B, et al. Acute effects of temperature exposure on blood pressure: An hourly level panel study. Environment International. 2019;124:493-500.

[3] Carpio-Rivera E, Moncada-Jiménez J, Salazar-Rojas W, Solera-Herrera A. Acute effects of exercise on blood pressure: A meta-analytic investigation. Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiologia. 2016;106(5):422–33.

[4] Hildrum B, Mykletun A, Stordal E, et al. Association of low blood pressure with anxiety and depression: the Nord‐Trøndelag Health Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2007;61(1):53–8.

[5] European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Caution urged in the use of blood pressure lowering treatment for heart disease patients. Science Daily. 2016. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830084146.htm

[6] University of Exeter. Low blood pressure linked to high mortality in older adults. ScienceDaily. 2020. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200307170735.htm



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