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The surprising signs of low blood pressure

Feel faint? Or dizzy? You could have low blood pressure. Find out how to manage your symptoms.

Whenever blood pressure hits the health headlines, it’s normally about the dangers of high blood pressure. But low blood pressure can cause us health problems too.

What is low blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure inside your arteries created by blood moving around your body. It’s given in two measurements:
• systolic pressure – when your heart beats and forces blood out into your arteries

• diastolic pressure – when your heart relaxes between beats, reducing the pressure on artery walls1 A healthy blood pressure is between 90/60 (systolic/diastolic) and 120/80.2 If you have high blood pressure – greater than 140/90 – you have a greater risk of developing serious conditions such as heart disease or stroke.3 Low blood pressure – below 90/60 – doesn’t normally cause any problems, but if it drops too low it can restrict the amount of blood flowing to your brain and other organs.4

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Symptoms of low blood pressure

If you have low blood pressure, you may experience:5

• dizziness
• fainting
• light-headedness
• heart palpitations
• confusion
• feeling sick
• general weakness

You may notice low blood pressure symptoms particularly after eating a meal – called postprandial hypotension – as blood rushes to your stomach during digestion, or when you sit or stand up suddenly, known as postural hypotension, because it takes a while for your blood pressure to adjust to your new position.6

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Five ways to tackle low blood pressure

1. Get up slowly, especially after sleeping at night. Try doing some stretches in bed to get your circulation going before you get up too.7 2. Wear support stockings. They put pressure on the blood vessels in your feet and legs, helping to increase overall blood pressure.8 3. Avoid large meals. Eating smaller, more frequent meals may help avoid postprandial hypotension. Stay seated after your meal too.9 4. Start snacking on liquorice. A study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension in 2001 found consuming just 50mg of liquorice a day could cause a rise in blood pressure.10 5. Cut down on coffee and alcohol before bed. This helps avoid dehydration, which causes low blood pressure. Stick to water and herbal teas instead.11
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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Sources

1. Blood Pressure UK. Blood pressure – the basics. Available from: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Thebasics/Bloodpressure
2. Blood Pressure UK. Blood pressure chart. Available from: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Thebasics/Bloodpressurechart
3. Blood Pressure UK. What is high blood pressure? Available from: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Thebasics/Whatishigh
4. NHS Choices. Low blood pressure (hypotension). Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Blood-pressure-%28low%29/Pages/Introduction.aspx
5. NHS Inform. Low blood pressure (hypotension) – symptoms. Available from: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/heart-and-blood-vessels/conditions/low-blood-pressure-hypotension#symptoms
6. As above
7. NHS Inform. Low blood pressure (hypotension) – treatment. Available from: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/heart-and-blood-vessels/conditions/low-blood-pressure-hypotension#treatment
8. As above
9. As above
10. Sigurjónsdóttir HÁ, et al. Liquorice-induced rise in blood pressure: a linear dose-response relationship. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/1001215
11. As Source 7

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