Types of Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension



A marginal drop in blood pressure is a normal thing and does not lead to any noticeable symptoms. However, if it is a significant change in blood pressure, it may be caused due to an underlying condition and can result in symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and fainting. Prolonged periods of low blood pressure or hypotension can be life-threatening as well. Below is a quick look at the types of low blood pressure caused by different medical conditions. An adult primary care doctor at a Los Angeles low income clinic can help you understand low blood pressure.

Orthostatic Hypotension

Also known as postural hypotension, this condition refers to a sudden drop in blood pressure when the person stands up from a sitting position or when getting up after sleep. This happens as gravity causes blood to flow in the legs when standing.

In normal cases, the body compensates by constricting blood vessels and increasing heart rate to pump enough blood to the brain. Yet in patients with orthostatic hypotension, the body fails to run this mechanism and leads to blood pressure falls.

Orthostatic hypotension is generally caused due to dehydration, diabetes, heart problems, excessive heat, prolonged bed rest, large varicose veins, burns, and certain neurological disorders. It is also common in pregnant women and older adults. Apart from that, some medications can also lead to orthostatic hypotension, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors.

Postprandial Hypotension

This condition refers to experiencing a drop in blood pressure after eating, which can happen one to two hours after having a meal. It usually affects seniors, but can be seen in young people as well who have certain conditions that affect their digestive system.

Typically, the body increases the heart rate and constricts certain blood vessels to maintain the flow of blood to the digestive tract and brain after eating. Yet in people with postprandial hypotension, this mechanism fails and leads to symptoms like dizziness, weakness, fainting, and falls.

Postprandial hypotension also affects patients with high blood pressure conditions, or those who have any autonomic nervous system disorder, such as Parkinson’s disease. Eating small meals that have low carbohydrate content and drinking plenty of water can help to avoid the complications of low blood pressure in these cases.

Neurally Mediated Hypotension

This condition is caused because of faulty brain signals, which can happen after standing for long periods. It is more common in children and young adults, and it is believed that the drop in blood pressure occurs due to the miscommunication between the heart and the brain. Sometimes, an emotionally-upsetting event or trauma can also lead to this type of low blood pressure.

Another type of hypotension is Shy-Drager syndrome or multiple system atrophy. It is a rare condition, which happens with orthostatic hypotension and leads to Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, such as progressive damage to the autonomic nervous system.

Contact CCCHC to learn more about hypotension.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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