Low blood pressure or low blood pressure (lat. hypotension) alone does not count as an illness. Unlike high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart attack or organ damage, low blood pressure rarely causes damage to the body. Hypotension can only become a problem when it causes symptoms such as tiredness, dizziness or seeing "stars in front of your eyes".
Since hypotension is only considered an independent disease in certain cases in Germany, it is also known internationally as "German disease". Low blood pressure is common in slim young women going through puberty, pregnant women and thin older people. If you also have low blood pressure, our article will tell you everything you need to know about this topic and what you can do about it.
the essentials in brief
- Low blood pressure is more of a symptom than a disease. As a rough guide, a blood pressure reading below 110/100 to 70/60 mmHg is considered low.
- There can be 4 different causes of low blood pressure. Most of the time, however, it is harmless and without a recognizable cause.
- Low blood pressure is not a bad thing per se, but it can cause unpleasant symptoms such as tiredness or headaches. However, these can be treated with medication as well as with some good tricks.
Definition: What is low blood pressure?
The heart supplies blood to tissues and organs in the body. The alternating contraction and relaxation of your heart muscle (heartbeat) pumps blood into the vessels of your circulatory system. This pressure value, with which your blood is pumped from the heart into your blood vessels, is called blood pressure (1).
Remember, low blood pressure is basically just a symptom and not a disease.
Low blood pressure is when your blood pressure drops below 100 to 60 mmHg (millimetres of mercury). However, this is only a rough guideline, since the boundary between normal and low blood pressure is not precisely defined.
Background: What you should know about low blood pressure
Before we give you some suggested solutions on how to deal with low blood pressure, we will clarify everything important on this topic in the following section.
We have compiled and answered some frequently asked questions about low blood pressure. The selection of questions gives you a good insight into this medical field.
What are the causes of low blood pressure?
Essentially, low blood pressure occurs when the arterial vessels are under-filled. Dehydration or blood loss can be reasons for this. However, hypotension can also be caused by cardiac insufficiency or a reduced return flow of blood to the heart.
In general, the causes of low blood pressure can be divided into 4 categories:
- Hypotension due to predisposition or without a precisely identifiable cause (primary hypotension)
- Hypotension from illness or medication (secondary hypotension )
- Hypotension from a violent shock situation
- Hypotension due to poor regulation of blood pressure when changing body position, e.g. when standing up (orthostatic hypotension)
In addition to hereditary factors (2), the physical condition, various environmental influences and the individual physique also play a role (3).
How do I use a blood pressure monitor correctly?
If you want to find out if you have low blood pressure, a blood pressure monitor can help you. There are two different versions for home use. In stores you can choose between a blood pressure monitor for the wrist or the upper arm. Both devices work fully automatically and digitally.
- Wrist device: Here you simply put the blood pressure monitor on like a watch, but rotate the screen to the inside of your wrist. When measuring, place your elbow on the table, sit up straight, and keep your wrist at heart level.
- Blood pressure monitor for the upper arm: This variant measures your blood pressure values a little more precisely because it is closer to the heart region. A small disadvantage is that the device is a bit more difficult to put on.
Please note to always use the same arm when measuring. In addition, you should be completely relaxed and have not done any sport or the like before, otherwise the values can be falsified. To get reliable values, measure your blood pressure on several days and at rest (4).
The blood pressure measurement variant for the upper arm measures your blood pressure values a little more precisely. The display shows you the systolic value, the diastolic value and your heart rate from top to bottom (Image source: Mockup Graphics / Unsplash).
What do the values mean when measuring blood pressure?
If you have used your blood pressure monitor, it will show you several values. In addition to your pulse value, there are two different values for your blood pressure:
- The systolic value: This value measures the pressure that occurs when the heart muscle contracts. Oxygen-rich blood is pumped into the vessels.
- The diastolic value: When the heart muscle relaxes, a certain pressure is exerted on the blood vessels. This pressure is represented by the diastolic value. The diastolic pressure/value is lower than the systolic.
The upper value that your blood pressure monitor shows you is always the systolic value and the lower value is always the diastolic value (5).
When does low blood pressure become dangerous?
Hypotension is rarely threatening. Hypotension can only become dangerous when the values drop too much and there is a risk of fainting. Sometimes arterial hypotension can be a sign of potentially serious organ disease.
|blood pressure type||Values for men in mmHg||Values for women in mmHg|
|Low blood pressure||under 110 to 70||under 100 to 60|
|Optimal blood pressure||under 120 to 80||under 120 to 80|
|normal blood pressure||120-129 to 80-84||120-129 to 80-84|
If your low blood pressure is bothering you, then you should definitely clarify this with your doctor. If an illness is causing the low blood pressure, then your blood pressure should return to normal as soon as the illness is treated as well.
What are the symptoms of low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure does not have to cause symptoms. In return, it protects the heart and circulation and is therefore healthier than high blood pressure. However, the following symptoms can be triggered by low blood pressure (3,6):
- lack of concentration
- blurred vision or going black in front of the eyes
The symptoms can vary in severity. Stress, which intensifies many problems, also has a negative effect on these symptoms (7). If the symptoms do not go away or interfere with your everyday life, please consult a doctor.
What role does the pulse play in low blood pressure?
When you have low blood pressure, your body cannot consistently supply all of its areas with enough blood. With an increased heartbeat, he tries to compensate for an undersupply. A high heart rate and low blood pressure therefore do not stand in the way of each other.
When blood pressure is low, the heart rate is often higher.
It rarely happens that when blood pressure is low, heart rate is also low. However, if you also have a low pulse over a longer period of time (less than 60-80 heartbeats per minute at rest) with low blood pressure, then also consult a doctor. This can lead to an undersupply of your body with oxygenated blood.
What blood pressure is normal for what age?
The blood pressure values of children differ from the values of adults and are significantly lower. Small children in particular have low values. However, as children get older, their blood pressure values also approach those of adults. The table below shows the normal blood pressure values for each age group:
|age group||Blood pressure readings in mmHg|
|newborn||60 to 40|
|baby||80 to 60|
|toddlers||95 to 60|
|school children||100 to 60|
|teenagers||110 to 70|
|Adult||120 to 80|
|Old people||150 to 90|
As the table illustrates, blood pressure increases with each decade up to old age. The reason is that as we age, the arteries lose their elasticity. Stiff arteries lead to an increase in blood pressure. As a result, slightly elevated blood pressure values are considered acceptable from the age of 60. However, if other diseases or risk factors are present, the higher values should be clarified with a doctor.
How dangerous is low blood pressure during pregnancy?
Hormones in your body change during pregnancy. This also changes some bodily functions such as the cardiovascular system. It is not uncommon for blood pressure to drop slightly and heart rate to increase. Values below 120 to 80 mmHg are considered optimal for pregnant women. Generally, there is no such thing as a blood pressure value that is too low.
In principle, there is no danger for the child.
Here, too, it applies that low blood pressure only becomes a problem if symptoms such as dizziness or tiredness affect life in the long term. However, low blood pressure does not pose a risk to the child. The unborn child is usually not undersupplied (8).
Don't worry about low blood pressure during pregnancy. It is common for blood pressure to drop somewhat during the first few months. As a rule, there are no dangers for the baby (Image source: freestocks / Unsplash).
What are the general risks of low blood pressure?
In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, older people in particular should be careful if they have low blood pressure. They can experience severe dizziness, which can lead to dangerous situations. Falls down stairs caused by this can lead to serious injuries. Older people with low blood pressure are also at higher risk of developing dementia (9).
Anyone who already has a cardiovascular disease (e.g. constriction in the coronary arteries) should also have low blood pressure checked with their doctor. If the blood pressure of these patients falls below 110 mmHg, this can trigger a heart attack. In older people and people with cardiovascular diseases, too great a drop in blood pressure is therefore unfavorable (10).
Low Blood Pressure: What Can I Do About It? The best tips & tricks
If you are suffering from the symptoms of your low blood pressure, i.e. you get tired easily, you are dizzy or have trouble concentrating, then there are ways and means to deal with it. In addition to medication, there are also very simple aids that can contribute to an improvement.
Therefore, we have put together some useful tips and tricks in the following section to help you with low blood pressure. If you are unsure, ask your doctor before use.
Medicines for low blood pressure
Before purchasing any low blood pressure medication, you should contact your doctor. Hypotension is usually not harmful and does not require medical attention. The exception is when the low blood pressure is caused by a medical condition.
Even if you are suffering greatly from the symptoms, we recommend that you consult your doctor for advice.
In this case, medication can also be useful. For example, the doctor can prescribe medicines that increase the pressure in the veins and arteries. These drugs usually also have a positive effect on the heart and blood vessels. Drugs such as erythropoietin, etilefrine or dihydroergotamine are used in hypotension.
Home remedies for low blood pressure
It is not always necessary to take medication to alleviate symptoms. There are also some home remedies that can help with low blood pressure.
The following 5 home remedies and techniques should help you quickly when the symptoms of low blood pressure become a problem and you feel tired or dizzy.
In order to improve your low blood pressure, it is advisable to increase your fluid intake. As a rough guideline, a drinking quantity of 2.5 l is ideal. Fruit or herbal teas, water containing minerals or various juices are very suitable for this.
Drink at least 2.5 liters daily.
You can easily replace the morning cup of coffee with a cup of green or black tea. Contrary to earlier assumptions, the effect of the caffeine contained in coffee only lasts for a short time. Medicinal herbs in tea can also help to reduce stress . From time to time you can also use a small glass of sparkling wine.
Eat the right foods
When the cortisol level rises, the body also gets going. Legumes, liquorice and oats are good for this. Salt also increases blood pressure. The mineral binds the liquid in the body and thus increases the vascular volume. Salty snacks or fermented vegetables are helpful here. However, the amount of table salt should not exceed 5g per day.
Minerals and vitamins are also extremely important. So try to include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Also, eat several small meals rather than three large ones.
Daily exercise is of great importance for people with low blood pressure. This doesn't have to degenerate into daily sports sessions. Leaving the car at home more often or taking the stairs instead of the elevator does a lot. Using the bike more often is also a good way to get more exercise in everyday life.
With a bit of perseverance, these things can be easily integrated into everyday life and become a habit. Although the blood pressure does not change significantly as a result, dizziness improves and the circulation gets going.
Regular exercise gets the circulation going and can help to improve symptoms such as fatigue and headaches (Image source: Juliane Liebermann / Unsplash).
Getting up slowly
Those who suffer from orthostatic hypotension have problems with their blood pressure, especially when standing up. Here, too, a new routine should be established. Instead of getting out of bed quickly, give yourself more time to do this. It is better if you sit up very slowly at first and then remain in the sitting position for 1-2 minutes.
It can also help if the blood flow in the legs is stimulated while lying down. To do this, it is sufficient to alternately bend and stretch your legs. Riding a bike lying down with your legs in the air is also good exercise.
Kneipp therapy or alternating warm showers
A contrast shower is the alternating showering of the legs or arms with cold and warm water. The water should always run away from the heart over the arms and legs first. Taking turns showering in the morning after getting up can be very helpful if you have low blood pressure. Alternating showers stimulate the circulation and get it moving. Start with hot water first and then use cold.
The most well-known Kneipp therapy is treading water. You can often discover water treading pools while walking in the forest. Water treading consists of running back and forth with bare feet in very cold water, often over different surfaces. The water temperature should definitely be below 15 degrees Celsius. Also, the water must not go over your knees.
As our article shows, low blood pressure is only threatening in a few cases and is more likely to be counted among the symptoms and less seen as an independent disease. However, low blood pressure can cause uncomfortable symptoms. These include fatigue, headaches and dizziness. Anyone who is affected by this in their everyday life should definitely contact their doctor.
Fortunately, there are also a few tricks and tools to counteract the symptoms. Lots of water, the right diet and more exercise in everyday life often work wonders. Contrast showers or Kneipp therapy are also good ways to get your circulation going and raise your blood pressure.
Schneider HJ, Jacobi N., Thyen J. (2020) My blood pressure is wrong. In: Hormones - their influence on my life. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp. 251-255. Source
Harris Sr. Congenital hypotonia: clinical and developmental assessment. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2008 Dec;50(12):889-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03097.x. PMID: 19046184. Source
Wessely S, Nickson J, Cox B. Symptoms of low blood pressure: a population study. BMJ 1990 Aug 18-25;301(6748):362-5. doi: 10.1136/bmj.301.6748.362. PMID: 2400856; PMCID: PMC1679910. Source
Ritter, Martin A., Darius G. Nabavi, and E. Bernd Ringelstein. "Measurement of Arterial Blood Pressure." Dtsch Arztebl 104.20 (2007): 1406-10. Source
C. Stosch (2013): Blood pressure measurement. University of Cologne, Cologne. Source
Pilgrim JA, Stansfeld S, Marmot M. Low blood pressure, low mood? BMJ 1992 Jan 11;304(6819):75-8. doi: 10.1136/bmj.304.6819.75. PMID: 1737142; PMCID: PMC1881007. Source
Norbert Lagoni, Munich, Matthias Mauz (2005): Hypotonic circulatory disorders. In: Pharmaceutical Newspaper. Issue 47/2005, Esslingen. Source
Hohmann M, Künzel W. Low blood pressure in pregnancy - causes, consequences and therapy [Low blood pressure in pregnancy]. Z Obstetrics Neonatal. 2007 Apr;211(2):45-53. Source
Verghese J, Lipton RB, Hall CB, Kuslansky G, Katz MJ. Low blood pressure and the risk of dementia in very old individuals. Neurology. 2003 Dec 23;61(12):1667-72. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000098934.18300.be. PMID: 14694027. Source
Michael Böhm, Helmut Schuhmacher, Koon K Theo et. al (2017): Achieved blood pressure and cardiovascular outcomes in high-risk patients: results from ONTARGET and TRANSCEND trials. In: The Lancet. Volume 389, ISSUE 10085, pp. 2226-2238. Source