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Low Blood Pressure in the Elderly: The Facts and More

When it comes to health and wellness, avoiding high blood pressure is often a topic of discussion. However, it is also important to be mindful of blood pressure that is too low, as that can be dangerous too. It can make exercise and daily activities difficult to do, and can cause injuries if a fall results. However, the good news is that the condition is often treatable once it’s been diagnosed, and curing it is possible if the underlying cause is curable.

What Is Low Blood Pressure?

Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, doesn’t always cause symptoms. Sometimes it can mean that your vital organs aren’t receiving enough blood flow. Hypotension can be life-threatening in severe cases. Signs of low blood pressure include lightheadedness, dizziness and blurry vision. The condition can even cause fainting and fatigue.

As the Cleveland Clinic explains, there are two definitions of hypotension. “Absolute hypotension” means that your resting blood pressure is low, whereas “orthostatic hypotension” means that your blood pressure drops within three minutes of standing up. Orthostatic hypotension can affect anyone, but it is more common in older adults, as aging itself can lower blood pressure.

What Causes Low Blood Pressure?

Low blood pressure can occur for many reasons. It can happen from dehydration, or it can be the result of a more serious health concern. Bed rest can lower blood pressure, as can blood loss from injury. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of any recent health events you may have had, and how they might affect your blood pressure.

Additionally, autonomic nervous system diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, can affect blood pressure. Orthostatic hypertension affects 30% to 50% of people with Parkinson’s disease and approximately 30% of people with diabetes. Heart and lung conditions that may be present in older adults can also lead to hypotension.

If you believe you may have hypotension, or would like to ensure that you do not, testing for it is simple. Your doctor will take your blood pressure to determine if you have the condition. If you do, then it will be important for your doctor to figure out why it may be occurring, and that will include additional tests. Your doctor, for instance, may want to check if you have diabetes or low iron levels, also known as anemia. They may also test for thyroid or hormonal problems.

Treatment and Self-Care for Low Blood Pressure

Of course, as we age it’s important to keep our blood pressure in check. And while it’s often not possible to reduce your risk of hypotension, it is possible to feel better after your low blood pressure diagnosis.

Once your doctor determines why you are experiencing low blood pressure, you can begin treatment. Treatment may involve making changes to your diet and learning how to recognize low blood pressure symptoms. It may also involve medication.

Your doctor should know about your lifestyle as well as any medications or supplements you may be taking or home remedies you may be using, as some can lower blood pressure. It’s important to follow your doctor’s guidance if you receive a low blood pressure diagnosis in order to minimize its impact on your health and well-being.

In the end, the goal is to feel more like yourself again! If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of hypotension, speak with your doctor about your concerns. Having it diagnosed and treated can help you avoid complications, which include falls and any resulting injuries, shock, and heart problems or stroke.

As you get older, it may become harder to oversee all aspects of your health. Right at Home offers services that can help monitor symptoms and promote self-care. Right at Home’s trained caregivers can also assist with ambulation, oversee safe movement around the house, and help with meals, errands and light housekeeping. Find a location near you for more information.

Shelby Fisk is a writer who is passionate about connecting individuals to information that can improve their lives. She works extensively on wellness and education initiatives. You can find her on Twitter at @shelbyfisk.
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