Blood Pressure 103: Hypotension

Your body is in essence a machine, a system of wires and plumbing that work together to provide a functioning body what it needs to operate; much like a car or a house. If the wiring malfunctions, the system does not receive the instruction and feedback it needs to continue. If the plumbing is not provided with water and pressure from the well, the machines that depend on the system (the boiler, washers, toilets, showers) will run dry, and they will fail.

So it is with your circulatory system. If there is too much pressure, as we reviewed in our last two newsletters, it can cause harm to the pipes causing heart failure, stroke, and kidney damage. If there is too little pressure, damage may occur due to decreased blood flow to the vital organs as they depend on blood to bring them nutrients and oxygen. This can lead to organ damage and death. We call this hypotension.

Hypotension is generally defined as a blood pressure reading of 90/65 or less. The most immediate concern for a patient who is hypotensive is a stroke. If the pressure is too low the brain is not receiving enough blood flow and therefore not supplied with enough oxygen. The causes of hypertension are varied but we find that dehydration is one the biggest culprits and can be caused by poor intake of fluids, illness, medication, or a traumatic injury.

In short, a low blood pressure is just as dangerous as a high blood pressure and needs to be monitored and addressed right away. The best way to do this is to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis and to report any suspicious symptoms that may indicate hypotension to your Primary Care Provider. Symptoms may include any or a combination of the following: dizziness, dry mouth, generalized weakness, confusion, diarrhea, and vomiting.

At Eldorado Family Health we will assist you with any blood pressure concerns or other health care needs before they become an emergency. Please call to make an appointment at 505-216-7772.

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