The Low Blood Pressure Range – Everything You Need To Know

While researching blood pressure, I find fewer people wondering about low blood pressure. For this reason, there’s less written about it which is one of the reasons I’m writing this article. Low blood pressure can be just as dangerous as high. Therefore, what’s the low blood pressure range?

The low blood pressure range is systolic blood pressure less than 90 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure less than 60 mmHg. The low blood pressure range is not included in the blood pressure chart but medical experts use this range as a guide.

This article will inform you on low blood pressure symptoms, causes, treatments, diagnosis and when it’s an emergency. In addition, why it affects the elderly and reasons why it drops when changing body positions, especially standing up.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

What is Low Blood Pressure

The blood pressure chart does not have low blood pressure listed as a category. In addition, it doesn’t give clear, concrete numbers for low blood pressure like it does for the five blood pressure categories. Therefore, what is low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure is when the pressure against the walls of the arteries fall below normal blood pressure range. Medical experts agree low blood pressure is less than 90 mmHg systolic and 60 mmHg diastolic blood pressure.

During times of low blood pressure, the pressure against the walls of the arteries decreases to low levels 1. If blood pressure gets too low, the organs are not supplied with the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients. Those organs can include the heart or brain 2.

There are times when low blood pressure can become an emergency, covered in detail later in this post.

Home monitoring is gaining steam and the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology highly recommend it. Home monitoring is just as important for low BP. If you’re in need of a home monitor, I recommend the Welch Allyn 1700.

I use it myself, and you can check this website for my reviews about it. It’s a little more costly than other home monitors but it’s the brand most hospitals use for their blood pressure equipment. Check its current price on Amazon here, Welch Allyn 1700.

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Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

When symptoms appear, it means the low blood pressure is more serious 3. What are the symptoms of low blood pressure? The following are 10 symptoms of low blood pressure:

  1. Fainting
  2. Nausea
  3. Dizziness or lightheadedness
  4. Blurred vision
  5. Lack of concentration
  6. Rapid breathing
  7. Fatigue
  8. Depression
  9. Cold and pale skin
  10. Dehydration

Many people want to know, how does it feel when blood pressure is low? Low blood pressure symptoms can make you feel the following:

  • The feeling of being woozy or like falling over.
  • Dizzy.
  • The urge to vomit.
  • Unable to see clearly or in detail.
  • Hard to focus on one topic.
  • Breathing increases and becomes more shallow.
  • Feeling tired and lazy.
  • Having a loss of interest or feeling depressed.
  • The skin feels cold or wet.
  • Feeling thirsty.

Its possible blood pressure may be low without any symptoms. Typically low blood pressure without symptoms is not a concern but it should be monitored and a physician notified of the measurements.

When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency

There are many times blood pressure may be low and the person won’t even become aware of it. Typically, low blood pressure is not an emergency. For some people, having low blood pressure may be normal. For people in this category, it’s a good idea to monitor the blood pressure and consult with a physician.

Then there are times when someone might experience a sudden drop in blood pressure. There are several different reasons why this can occur which is covered in the next sections. When there is a sudden drop in pressure you may wonder, what is a dangerously low blood pressure?

A dangerously low blood pressure is when it drops suddenly below systolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure below 60 mmHg and one of the following symptoms are present:

  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of concentration
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Clammy skin
  • Dehydration

If one of the symptoms above is combined with low blood pressure, 911 should be called 4. Don’t wait and see if the symptoms go away or for your blood pressure to recovery. Failure to get help can result in severe consequences covered in the next section.

In this same website, I wrote an article dedicated to when low blood pressure is an emergency. If you want to check it out, you can see it by clicking here, When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency – Call 911.

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Consequences of Low Blood Pressure

When blood pressure gets too low and is considered an emergency, there are many life-threatening complications 5. In these situations the organs are not getting enough blood and oxygen. What are the consequences of having low blood pressure?

The following are five possible consequences of low blood pressure:

  1. Stroke: A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted.
  2. Heart attack: A heart attack can occur when the blood flow to the heart is blocked or low.
  3. Kidney failure: The kidneys won’t operate properly when they are receiving insufficient blood.
  4. Injuries caused by falling: This can result from being dizzy or lightheaded.
  5. Shock: When there is low blood flow through the body it can go into a condition known as shock. There are different kinds of shock including:
    • Cardiogenic shock: Cardiogenic shock is when a damaged heart cannot supply enough blood to the body.
    • Hypovolemic shock: This is when extreme blood or fluid loss makes the heart unable to supply enough blood to the body. In addition, it can occur when there’s not enough blood to deliver oxygen through the body.
    • Septic shock: When there is a decline of blood pressure because bacteria enters the blood producing toxins.
    • Anaphylactic shock: Anaphylactic shock is an allergic reaction that can result in a severe fall of blood pressure. This shock can sometimes be fatal.

11 Causes of Low Blood Pressure

Blood pressure can vary from person to person and low blood pressure can result from everyday activity. There are several different causes of low blood pressure, some common and others vary in severity.

What can cause low blood pressure? The following can cause low blood pressure:

1. Certain medications: The following can cause low blood pressure:

  • Painkillers
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Diuretics
  • Medications used for surgery.
  • Heart medicine, particularly those used to treat high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
  • Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs, when taken with high blood pressure medications, can cause low blood pressure.
  • Drugs for Parkinson’s disease.

2. Severe infection: Like with septic shock, when bacteria leaves the infection and enters the bloodstream. Toxins produced affect the blood vessels which can lead to life-threatening low blood pressure.

3. Heart problems: There are times when the heart may be unable to circulate enough blood. Heart valve issues, heart attack and low heart rate can cause this 6.

4. Severe allergic reaction: Fatal allergic reactions can happen to highly sensitive people from certain medications, foods or bee stings.

5. Change in body position: This mostly occurs when switching from lying down or sitting to standing up.

6. Decrease in blood volume: A loss of blood pressure can result from low blood volume. This can occur with the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Trauma
  • Internal bleeding

7. Pregnancy: Typically, pregnant women have low blood pressure in the beginning stages.

8. Nutritional deficiencies: Anemia can result from lack of B12 and folic acid 7.

9. Endocrine problems: Hormone-producing glands in the endocrine system can have complications causing low blood pressure 8.

  • Addison’s disease
  • Low blood sugar
  • Diabetes
  • An underactive thyroid
  • Parathyroid disease

10. Neurally mediated hypotension: This typically affects younger people and occurs because of a miscommunication between the brain and heart. Blood pressure will drop after standing for long periods of time. This can cause fainting, dizziness and nausea.

11. Nerve damage with diabetes: People with diabetes can develop nerve damage, this is called diabetic neuropathy. The nerves can become damaged because of high blood sugar levels over time and decreased blood flow.

When the nerves in the blood vessels and heart become damaged, it’s possible to feel lightheaded while standing up due to low blood pressure.

Low Blood Pressure Treatment

It’s possible to have low blood pressure, and treatment is unnecessary. For some people it’s typical to have low blood pressure, and it doesn’t cause them any problems. Typically in this situation, a doctor will monitor the blood pressure, and the same should be done at home.

If blood pressure is too low with symptoms, it’s likely there will be some form of treatment 9. The good news is low blood pressure can usually be treated with success. The treatment can differ depending on age, symptoms and how low the BP readings are.

How do you treat low blood pressure? Low blood pressure can be treated with the following:

  1. Low blood pressure diet
  2. Increase fluids
  3. Medication
  4. Compression stockings
  5. Body positions
  6. Home monitoring
  7. Stay hydrated
  8. Avoid excess alcohol

Let’s take a closer look at each treatment.

1. Low blood pressure diet: The food a person eats affects low blood pressure tremendously. The following are effective changes to daily nutrition:

  • A doctor or nutritionist may want an increase in sodium. A safe increase in sodium intake can help increase low blood pressure.
  • Eat smaller portioned meals several times a day. This can help prevent blood pressure from dropping sharply after meals.

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2. Increase fluids: Increase the amount of fluids especially right before a meal. One study showed drinking 16 ounces of water right before a meal lowered the occurrence of low blood pressure. This was true with older adults around 67 years of age.

3. Medication: Several medications can be used to treat low blood pressure 10. One medication, called fludrocortisone, boosts the blood volume and is used to treat people with low blood pressure when standing up.

Another drug, Orvaten, is used to increase standing blood pressure levels in people with chronic orthostatic hypotension. It lessens the ability of the blood vessels to expand and keeps them more constricted.

Sometimes, medication you’re already taking can be the cause of low blood pressure. In this situation, the doctor may adjust or change the medication.

4. Compression stockings: A doctor may prescribe the wearing of compression stockings. They squeeze the lower legs which helps prevent the pooling of blood in the legs. This allows more blood to flow to other areas of the body helping to keep blood pressure higher.

5. Body positions: Pay more attention to body positions and movements. Gently move to standing positions from a lying down or squatting position. In addition, don’t sit with the legs crossed and take a few deep breaths before getting out of bed.

6. Monitoring: Make a list of the symptoms and blood pressure. Keep track of any symptoms and when they occur, even if they don’t seem to be related to low blood pressure.

7. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can cause blood pressure to decrease. Less fluid can cause low blood pressure to decrease more.

8. Avoid excess alcohol: Excess alcohol can cause dehydration.

Learn about what foods are good for low blood pressure in my article, Low Blood Pressure Treatment. I list healthy foods higher in sodium and two particular B vitamins crucial for low BP.

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How Low Blood Pressure Is Diagnosed

If symptoms of low blood pressure are present, there are many ways a doctor can diagnose the problem 11. Typically, a doctor will try to determine if an underlying condition is causing it.

If an underlying cause is determined, the condition will be addressed which will typically solve the low blood pressure.

A person can help the doctor diagnose the problem by keeping track of any symptoms and activities at the time of the low blood pressure. Bringing those notes to the doctor can help with the diagnosis.

Whether you have an underlying problem or not, how do doctors test for low blood pressure? Doctors test for low blood pressure with the following 12 procedures:

  1. Physical exam.
  2. Measuring and recording blood pressure.
  3. Medical history.
  4. Blood tests.
  5. Electrocardiogram.
  6. Echocardiogram.
  7. Urinalysis.
  8. Chest X-ray.
  9. Abdomen X-ray.
  10. Stress test.
  11. Tilt table test
  12. Valsalva maneuver.

Let’s take a closer look at the procedures.

Physical exam: A routine physical exam will be conducted. Expect to be asked the following questions which you should have prepared answers for:

  • What is your typical blood pressure?
  • Do you take any medications? If you do, write them down prior to going to the visit.
  • Have your eating and drinking habits been normal?
  • Have you had any recent injuries or illnesses?
  • Do you have any symptoms?
  • Do you feel faint or less alert than usual?
  • Do you feel dizzy or lightheaded when standing up or sitting after lying down?

Check and record your blood pressure: This starts with home monitoring. Bring the blood pressure readings to the doctor.

Check your medical history: Past medical problems can help figure out what may be causing the low blood pressure.

Blood tests: Taking a blood sample and having it checked at the lab can provide information about your overall health, red blood cell count and blood sugar levels. The results can indicate a cause to the low blood pressure.

Electrocardiogram: Otherwise known as an EKG, electrodes are attached to the chest, arms and legs. An EKG reads the heart’s electrical signals and records them. This can detect problems with the heart like structural abnormalities, irregular heart beat and other issues with the heart’s supply of oxygen and blood.

Sometimes a doctor will ask for a monitor to be worn at home for a 24-hour period as you go about your normal routine.

Echocardiogram: This is an ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves, to make pictures of the heart. It can make images of the heart chambers, walls, valves and blood vessels attached to the heart.

Stress test: This is a test showing how the heart works during physical activity. Because physical activity makes the heart beat faster and harder, a stress test can reveal issues with the heart and blood flow under those conditions.

Typically, it involves walking on a treadmill to increase the heart rate. Sometimes a stationary bike can be used. If walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike is not possible, a drug mimicking the effects of exercise can be used.

Tilt table test: This test can check how the heart and body react to different positions like standing up from a lying down position. To conduct this test, a person lies down on a table while connected to an EKG and a blood pressure monitor.

The table can be moved from a lying down position to straight up while the heart and blood pressure are recorded to check for any changes.

Valsalva maneuver: The Valsalva maneuver is a way of breathing increasing the pressure in the chest causing changes in blood pressure and the heart rate. The test checks the function of the autonomic nervous system which regulates bodily functions like the heart rate.

A common way to perform the Valsalva maneuver (not recommended on your own) is to pinch the nose, keep the mouth closed and try to exhale as if blowing up a balloon. This can be down standing up or laying down, the doctor will decide which approach is best for you.

Urinalysis

Chest X-ray

Abdomen X-ray

Why Blood Pressure Drops When Standing

We’ve all experienced the feeling of dizziness when standing after sitting down. What are reasons why blood pressure drops when standing?

Blood pressure drops when standing because there is less blood circulating back to the heart. This occurs because more blood is pooled in the lower legs and abdomen prior to standing.

Typically, the body recovers quickly when sensors signal the brain which speeds up the heart rate and constricts blood vessels 12. This increases the blood pressure. Many people ask, how do I keep blood pressure from dropping when I stand up?

Keep blood pressure from dropping when standing by doing the following:

  • Move the body slower when standing up from a sitting position.
  • Avoid dehydration.
  • Avoid heat exposure.

If dizziness occurs more often than it should, it’s possible because of orthostatic hypotension. To learn more about this condition and blood pressure when standing up, check out my article, Why Blood Pressure Drops Suddenly When Standing Up.

Low Diastolic Blood Pressure

Do you have low diastolic blood pressure in the 50s or 40s and unsure what it means? What is the low diastolic blood pressure range? The range of low diastolic blood pressure is diastolic blood pressure under 60 mmHg and systolic pressure in the normal blood pressure range.

What causes a low diastolic blood pressure? The following can cause a low diastolic blood pressure:

  • Lowering systolic blood pressure in the elderly which also lowers diastolic pressure.
  • Heart problems.
  • Dehydration.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Certain medications.
  • Hardening of the arteries.
  • Nerve damage from diabetes.
  • Low blood sugar.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Severe infection.
  • Changes in body position.
  • Severe allergic reactions.
  • Internal bleeding.
  • Trauma.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Addison’s disease.

Learn more about these causes in detail in my article, Causes Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure.

What are causes of low diastolic pressure in the elderly? Causes of low diastolic blood pressure in the elderly include:

  • Lowering systolic blood pressure.
  • Heart problems.
  • Certain medications taken by older people.
  • Stiffening of the arteries.

Hardening of the arteries can occur because of calcium buildup, changes in the amino acid scale and collagen production 13.

What are low diastolic blood pressure symptoms? The following are low diastolic blood pressure symptoms:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Falling down
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Dehydration
  • Cold or wet skin
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations

To avoid medication, many people wonder, how can I raise my diastolic blood pressure naturally? Naturally raise low diastolic blood pressure by the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Perform regular physical exercise.
  • Avoid dehydration.
  • Follow a heart healthy diet.
  • Lower salt intake.
  • Avoid excess alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.

Check out my other articles on low diastolic blood pressure:

Low Diastolic Blood Pressure Symptoms

Low Diastolic Blood Pressure Treatment

FAQ

Can low blood pressure be detected in a blood test? Low blood pressure cannot be detected in a blood test. A blood test can detect an underlying problem which may be causing the low blood pressure.

Read Next – More Low Blood Pressure Articles!

Causes Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure In The Elderly

Low Blood Pressure Symptoms

 

Article Resources: Blood Pressure Explained follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Low Blood Pressure[]
  2. Medline Plus: Low blood pressure[]
  3. Cleveland Clinic: Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)[]
  4. Cleveland Clinic: Low Blood Pressure: When to Seek Emergency Care[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Hypotension[]
  6. American Heart Association: Bradycardia: Slow Heart Rate[]
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Orthostatic Hypotension as a Manifestation of Vitamin B12 Deficiency[]
  8. American Heart Association: Low Blood Pressure – When Blood Pressure Is Too Low[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Postprandial hypotension in older adults: Can it be prevented by drinking water before the meal?[]
  10. American Heart Association: Types of Blood Pressure Medications[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Looking for Trouble: Identifying and Treating Hypotension[]
  12. Cleveland Clinic: Low Blood Pressure (Orthostatic Hypotension) []
  13. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Age-related vascular stiffening: causes and consequences[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on blood pressure topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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