At times, low blood pressure can cause problems. For this reason, many people wonder when low blood pressure becomes an emergency. Therefore, let’s answer, when is low blood pressure an emergency?
Low blood pressure is an emergency when it becomes too low and the following symptoms are present:
- Blurred vision
- Lack of concentration
- Rapid breathing
- Pale skin
- Clammy skin
This article will cover in more detail what to do in an emergency and mistakes people make when their blood pressure falls suddenly. Low blood pressure is an important topic and must be taken seriously because the consequences to your body can be severe.
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When Low Blood Pressure Is An Emergency
Some people might get a sudden decrease in their blood pressure. Sometimes the decrease is the result of a medical condition or medicine. If the sudden drop in blood pressure is accompanied with one of the following symptoms, it’s considered an emergency:
- Blurred vision
- Lack of concentration
- Rapid breathing
- Pale skin
- Clammy skin
If the low blood pressure is accompanied with one of the above symptoms, immediate medical attention is required and 911 should be called 1.
Many people wonder, what low blood pressure measurement is needed to be considered an emergency?
There’s no certain blood pressure number for blood pressure to be considered too low. Although most medical experts consider a low blood pressure measurement for systolic less than 90 mmHg and a low blood pressure measurement for diastolic than then 60 mmHg.
Immediate medical attention for low blood pressure with symptoms is extremely important. One reason is if a person is going into shock. Shock is considered a severe situation. Therefore, a person should not wait for things to return to normal 2.
Shock is when the organs and tissues are not getting enough blood and oxygen. This can cause damage to the tissues and cells in the body. Shock can be a life threatening condition and why 911 should be called right away.
There are different kinds of shock which can be caused by any of the following:
- Loss of blood or fluids
- Internal or external bleeding
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Infections in the blood
- Severe allergic reactions
- The heart can’t pump blood effectively
- Damage to the nervous system
Emergency low BP is just one of ten topics discussed in my article, The Low Blood Pressure Range – Everything You Need To Know. Find out the causes, symptoms, treatments and more.
If in doubt about low blood pressure or symptoms, it’s always best to seek medical attention.
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The Symptoms of a Low Blood Pressure Emergency
As stated earlier, when low blood pressure is an emergency, symptoms will be present along with the low blood pressure. It’s important to know and how to identify each symptom. Let’s examine each one of these symptoms.
Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
Also know as syncope. It’s a temporary loss of consciousness typically related to insufficient blood flow to the brain.
2. Dizziness or lightheadedness
Dizziness can be caused by many things including low blood pressure. It’s the feeling of being unbalanced or woozy.
It’s feeling of uneasiness and discomfort and gives you the urge to vomit.
Lack of fluids can cause low blood pressure. Sometimes, it’s another problem causing the dehydration. The following can cause dehydration:
- If you’re taking blood pressure medication, overuse of diuretics
- Severe diarrhea
- Strenuous exercise
5. Blurred vision
A lack of sharpness that results in the inability to see in detail.
6. Lack of Concentration
When it’s difficult to focus on one thing.
7. Rapid/Shallow Breathing
Taking more breaths than typical in a given minute.
A lack of motivation or energy to perform physical or mental tasks.
Loss of interest in performing activities. Staying home or preventing interactions with others.
10. Pale Skin
The typical skin tone disappears, and the color of the skin is lighter.
11. Clammy Skin
When the skin becomes cold or feels wet or sweaty.
- The most common symptoms of low blood pressure are dizziness and lightheadedness. The lower the blood pressure, the greater chance of fainting.
- Many times the symptoms are caused by something other than the low blood pressure. When the underlying cause is identified and treated, the low blood pressure typically corrects itself.
The Consequences of a Low Blood Pressure Emergency
Low blood pressure means the organs are not getting enough blood and oxygen 3. When low blood pressure is an emergency, the following complications can occur:
Heart Attack: When the heart loses a supply of blood.
Stroke: Persistent low blood pressure can cause the brain to fail rapidly.
Kidney failure: When insufficient blood is delivered to the kidneys, they don’t eliminate wastes from the body. The amount of waste in the blood increases.
Shock: Shock is a life-threatening condition as a result of low blood flow throughout the body 4. The main symptom of shock is low blood pressure.
The following are the different kinds of shock:
- Hypovolemic shock: Caused by severe fluid and blood loss. The heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body, or there’s not enough blood to deliver oxygen through the body.
- Cardiogenic shock: This occurs when a damaged heart is unable to supply enough blood to the body.
- Septic shock: When bacteria enters the blood producing toxins leading to a decline of blood pressure.
- Anaphylactic shock: Sometimes fatal, an allergic reaction can result in a dramatic fall in blood pressure.
Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Many causes of low blood pressure may eventually lead to an emergency. Some are minor only causing low blood pressure without any other symptoms. More severe causes of low blood pressure can lead to emergencies like tissue damage, shock or even death.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure
Prolonged bed rest
The blood circulation decreases because of lack of movement.
Decrease in blood volume
A loss of blood volume can cause the blood pressure to drop. The loss in volume can happen due to trauma, internal bleeding or dehydration.
The following drugs may cause low blood pressure:
- Some heart and high blood pressure medications like beta-blockers and diuretics.
- Drugs for Parkinson’s disease.
- Erectile dysfunction drugs.
- Tricyclic antidepressants.
- Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs when combined with blood pressure medications.
Typically, in the first 6 months of pregnancy blood pressure is often low.
Problems with heart valves, low heart rate, and heart failure can cause low blood pressure. This is because the heart may be unable to circulate enough blood through the body.
Anemia can be caused by a lack of folic acid and B-12 which can cause low blood pressure.
Complications with hormone-producing glands in the endocrine system can cause low blood pressure like:
- An underactive thyroid
- Addison’s disease
- Parathyroid disease
- Low blood sugar
A severe infection, like septic shock, can occur when bacteria leaves the infection and enters the bloodstream. The bacteria then produces toxins affecting the blood vessels, leading to a life-threatening decline in blood pressure.
Neurally mediated low blood pressure
This causes the blood pressure to drop after standing for long periods of time. This can lead to dizziness, fainting and nausea.
Sometimes fatal allergic reactions can occur in highly sensitive people to certain drugs, foods or bee stings. This is why peanut allergies are in the news lately and why it’s mentioned on menus.
In addition, this is why the doctor’s office asks about any allergies to medication like penicillin.
Why do I have low blood pressure and a high pulse? The heart rate may speed up and blood pressure decrease due to dehydration, severe infection or bleeding. The heart may increase and contract faster to increase blood flow increase the blood pressure when it’s low.
Read Next – More Low Blood Pressure Related Articles!
- The American Heart Association: Low Blood Pressure – When Blood Pressure Is Too Low
- Cleveland Clinic: Low Blood Pressure: When to Seek Emergency Care
- MedlinePLus: Low blood pressure
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Low Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nontraumatic Hypotension and Shock in the Emergency Department and the Prehospital setting, Prevalence, Etiology, and Mortality: A Systematic Review
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Increasing incidence of hypotension in the emergency department; a 12 year population-based cohort study
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Association between hypotension and serious illness in the emergency department: an observational study
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Looking for Trouble: Identifying and Treating Hypotension
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Hypotension
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Symptoms of low blood pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Symptom Recognition Is Impaired in Patients With Orthostatic Hypotension