When most think about blood pressure problems, high blood pressure typically pops into the mind first. For many people though, low blood pressure is the problem. Low blood pressure, including diastolic, can be just as dangerous as high blood pressure. Knowing what causes it, can help you avoid this serious medical issue.
Many things can cause low diastolic blood pressure. Some of the causes affect the elderly, but almost all of them can affect people of any age. One of them is something you do almost every day, but can be avoided with some caution.
Causes Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
There are many medications that can cause low blood pressure. If you have low diastolic blood pressure, your physician may want to substitute it for something else or adjust the dosages.The following are medications that can cause your diastolic BP to drop:
Alpha-blocker medications: Alpha-blockers may be used for prostate problems and in combination with other medicines, like diuretics, to control high blood pressure. They keep your blood vessels open and improve blood flow. This can lower your blood pressure, especially diastolic (r).
Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants can lower diastolic blood pressure (r). They can cause low blood pressure because they affect chemicals in the brain which control different functions in your body.
Drugs for Parkinson’s Disease: Dopamine agonists are a common medication for Parkinson’s. One of their side effects is lowering blood pressure because they dilate your blood vessels and increase blood flow (r).
Medications used for surgery: High blood pressure during and after surgery increases risk of cardiovascular events. For this reason doctors will give you blood pressure medication prior to and after surgery to lower your blood pressure. Typically, beta blockers are initiated one day prior to surgery and after surgery intravenous nitroglycerin, beta blockers and channel blockers are administered (r).
Erectile dysfunction medicine: The active ingredient in these medications, Sildenafil Citrate, opens up blood vessels and increases blood flow. In addition, it also relaxes smooth muscle tissue. The opening of the vessels helps to lower blood pressure (r). Did you know that Viagra was intended to be a blood pressure medication and not for erectile dysfunction? It’s an interesting story which I talk about in my blog post, Does Viagra Lower Your Blood Pressure Or Raise It?
Over-the-counter drugs: Some OTC drugs may cause low blood pressure when taken with high blood pressure medication (r).
2) Heart Problems
If the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout your body, it can cause low diastolic blood pressure. While most of these heart problems affect the elderly, they can occur to anyone at any age. The following are various heart issues which can cause this to happen.
Low heart rate: Your heart rate is how many times your heart beats per minute. Mostly referred to as pulse, the average person’s heart rate may range from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A physically active person or athlete may have a rate below 60. While you sleep, it’s normal for your heart rate to get slower.
A condition, known as Bradycardia, slows down the heart rate for various reasons but old age is the most common. Other causes may include a thyroid problem, heart damage or medications. If a slow heart rate is left untreated, it can cause low blood pressure (r).
Heart valves: The heart has four valves, mitral, tricuspid, aortic and pulmonary. There is 1 valve for each chamber of the heart. They open and close to keep blood moving through the heart in the right direction. Depending on the heart valve disease, it can cause low diastolic blood pressure or high BP.
Heart failure: During heart failure or a heart attack, the blood flow to the heart gets blocked or restricted. As a result, less blood is supplied through the body because the heart pumps less blood. In addition, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated resulting in a tendency to lower blood pressure.
3) Lowering Systolic BP In The Elderly
As people age, systolic blood pressure typically increases. This can occur because of plaque build-up and hardening of the arteries. When systolic BP becomes a problem, efforts to lower it are started. When systolic BP is lowered, diastolic blood pressure also lowers. This can result in low diastolic blood pressure, especially if the person already had a lower diastolic to start (r).
A loss of fluids in the body can cause blood pressure to go up or down. Dehydration can cause a decrease in blood volume. When your blood volume is low, it can lead to a decrease in diastolic blood pressure (r).
In the first 24 weeks a woman’s body goes through many changes (r). One of these is the expansion of the circulatory system. The rapid expansion can cause a drop in BP. Other events during pregnancy that can cause low pressure include:
- Internal Bleeding
- Endocrine Disorders
6) Nutritional Deficiencies
The two nutrients that stand out the most are B-12 and folic acid. A lack of these nutrients can cause anemia, which can lead to low blood pressure. A lack of B-12 and its association with low blood pressure traces back as far as the 1960s (r).
7) Low Blood Sugar
Low blood glucose levels may cause both short-term and long-term complications. Short-term symptoms, like confusion and dizziness are similar to low blood pressure complications. The association between low blood sugar and low blood pressure typically occurs when low blood sugar is caused by too much insulin in a diabetic.
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8) Hardening Of Arteries
As people get older, their arteries lose their elasticity. This can occur for the following reasons:
- Calcium build-up.
- Loss of elastin functionality because of changes in the amino acid scale.
- Changes in collagen concentration.
A stiff artery can’t spring back like it used to between heartbeats. This is the exact moment diastolic blood pressure is measured. A stiff artery will cause low diastolic blood pressure and systolic to increase (r).
9) Diabetes and Nerve Damage
Like diabetics don’t have enough to worry about, the disease can cause nerve damage. Depending on what nerve damage they have, it will affect different parts of the body. Autonomic neuropathy is nerve damage that controls internal organs. This may affect the heart rate and blood pressure (r).
10) Severe Infection
After an infection enters the body, inflammation occurs. Sometimes the infection can be bad enough it affects the functions of the organs. A significant drop in blood pressure may occur as a result.
11) Severe Allergic Reactions
A severe allergic reaction may occur from medication, food, venoms and latex. The allergic reaction can cause hives, itching, swollen throat, breathing issues and a drastic drop to systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
12) Changes In Body Positions
First, while measuring your blood pressure, if your arm and BP cuff is higher than your heart (right atrium), your readings will be lower. I wrote a whole blog post on arm position when measuring your blood pressure. I also inform you how your BP can be 10% higher, even when the arm is correctly positioned. You can read my blog post by clicking here.
Have you ever changed body positions from sitting to standing and immediately felt unsteady or lightheaded? Gravity can cause blood to pool in your legs, and it can take a moment for your body to push blood up to your brain. This can occur more if you’re dehydrated or overheated (r).
Severe trauma can cause hemorrhaging. The loss of blood volume will cause a decrease in BP. Interesting, when someone has lost a lot of blood, sometimes the medical staff will try to keep blood pressure on the lower side (r).
14) Internal Bleeding
Losing blood internally, reduces the amount of blood available to circulate through the body. The lack of blood may cause a drop in blood pressure. This may occur from a bad fall, bleeding after surgery, pregnancy, broken bones or medication.
15) Thyroid Problems
Your neck has 4 small glands called the parathyroid glands. Each one is about the same size as a grain of rice. Their major function is to regulate the level of calcium in your body. Hypoparathyroidism occurs when they don’t make a proper amount of parathyroid hormones. Thyroid conditions like hypoparathyroid disease can cause diastolic blood pressure to be low.
16) Addison’s Disease
People with Addison’s disease often have an underachieve thyroid gland, hypothyroidism. This is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. Many different complications can result from Addison’s disease, like Addisonian crisis, which can lead to low diastolic blood pressure (r).
If you found this Blood Pressure topic interesting check out these related blood pressure articles also found in this same website:
- Low Blood Pressure – Everything You Need To Know
- 24 Foods To Reduce Blood Pressure
- How To Use A Home Blood Pressure Monitor The Right Way