Low Blood Pressure - What's a low reading?
The question as to what exactly constitutes Low blood pressure is a difficult one to answer. This is primarily due to the fact that factors such as age, fitness and medical history can all have a significant effect on blood pressure levels. What constitutes low blood pressure for one person may be a perfectly normal reading for another.
Typically, an optimal blood pressure reading is viewed as being between 120 and 130 mmHg systolic and 80 and 85 mmHg diastolic. A reading over 140 mmHg systolic and 90 mmHg diastolic is viewed as constituting high blood pressure. Similarly, a systolic measurement under 90 mmHg combined with a diastolic measurement under 60 mmHg is regarded as being a low blood pressure reading.
Blood pressure levels may drop as a result of the brain being deprived of blood by a sudden shift in position. This form of low blood pressure is particularly common amongst the elderly, and may result in fainting or loss of consciousness. Although disconcerting, postural hypotension is not seen as a health hazard due to the fact that blood will naturally be restored to the brain after a couple of seconds.
Blood pressure may also plunge during periods of emotional stress or tension. Similarly, strenuous exercise may also cause a significant drop in blood pressure levels. As a rule, professional athletes usually have reduced blood pressure levels, as do young people and children. Conversely, it is accepted medically that blood pressure frequently rises with age, explaining why older individuals often have higher blood pressure readings than their younger counterparts.
Low blood pressure may result in symptoms such as lethargy, dizziness and heart palpitations. It may also cause poor circulation which results in pins and needles in the extremities and sensitivity to low temperatures. Individuals suffering from low blood pressure may benefit from ensuring that their head is always sufficiently elevated while they are sleeping. A slight increase in salt intake and regular, moderate exercise may also increase circulation and reduce symptoms of the condition.
When blood pressure levels drop too low, blood supplies to the brain and vital organs of the body will be insufficient and the body will begin to shut down. Cardiac arrest, excessive blood loss and strokes are just some of the conditions that may cause blood pressure to drop below minimum levels of 50 mmHg systolic and 35 mmHg diastolic. If not treated immediately, this will lead to a coma shortly followed by death.