Low Blood Pressure and Anxiety

Low Blood Pressure and Anxiety

A bag full of Halloween candy might be called “Too much of a good thing.” Someone with high blood pressure (hypertension) might consider low blood pressure a good option, but actually it is not. Low blood pressure or hypotension is also an imbalance, an outlier from the norm, and therefore, has potential problems associated with it.1,2,3,

Low blood pressure can lead to heart disorders, neurological disorders or fainting, mental confusion, sweating, and endocrine disorders due to oxygen deprivation. The body can lapse into shock, a life threatening condition.1

What is Low Blood Pressure?

Systolic pressure is the first reading reported on medical records, that reading is when the heart is working. Diastolic pressure is the second reading, when the heart is resting. A reading of 90/60 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or lower is considered low blood pressure. When blood pressure is too low, not enough oxygen is getting to the brain and other vital organs. Although blood pressure normally fluctuates up to 30 or 40 mmHg, the favored baseline or preferred “normal” is 120/80 mmHg.

What Are The Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure?

  • Depression
  • Dizziness (especially after rapid movements or eating)
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Rapid, uneven, shallow breathing
  • Thirst
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Overall Weakness

What Affects Blood Pressure?

Sleeping lowers blood pressure; emotional stress and physical exercise increases it. Anxiety is an emotional stress. Depression is related to anxiety. Many of the discomforts of anxiety that have been listed are likely to affect blood pressure.

What Else Might Be Going On?

Knowing that anxiety is an issue makes it easy to assume that is what is causing the lowered blood pressure. However, check with your medical care provider to be sure that there is no medication or other medical issues that are affecting your blood pressure. Numerous other influences: adrenal gland failure, a nerve condition, an imbalance in salt and fluids and compression stockings can affect blood pressure.

Medical staff can check your blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer. Blood tests will indicate if there is a blood sugar issue. An electrocardiogram (ECG) will indicate the condition of your heart. A Holter monitor can be worn for 24 hours and will record heart fluctuations. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound tool for monitoring the heart in motion, it detects irregularities. An exercise stress test, valsalva maneuver, or tilt-table test might also be indicated as a way to eliminate causes other than anxiety. None of these will be needed if your physician is satisfied that anxiety is the culprit.

How Do I Ease the Symptoms?

Being aware of what causes any discomfort is helpful. Plan on eating more than three times a day. Also, lying down after meals may be helpful in reducing dizziness caused by the digestive tract using too much blood. That simple change can help a lot. Eating smaller meals and fewer carbohydrates may be another method of reducing the effects of low blood pressure.

References:

  1. Hildrum, Bjørn; Mykletun, Arnstein; Stordal, Eystein; Bjelland, Ingvar; Dahl, Alv A.; Holmen, Jostein, 2007. Association of low blood pressure with anxiety and depression: the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Jan2007, Vol. 61 Issue 1, p53-58. 6p.
  2. Norway, 2007. People with low blood pressure may be prone to depression.
  3. Nursing Standard. 2/14/2007, Vol. 21 Issue 23, p17-17. 1/3p.
  4. Keogh, Edmund; Chaloner, Nicola, 2002. Anxiety sensitivity and pain
  5. Psychopharmacology. Vol. 164 Issue 4, p429. 3p.

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