Low Blood Pressure

The lower the better when it comes to blood pressure, but only as long as you feel good.

What is low blood pressure?

If your blood pressure drops too low—a condition called hypotension—your health can be compromised. (Have low blood pressure? Here’s what you need to know about living with hypotension.)

Who is at risk for low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure can result from overly aggressive treatment of high blood pressure or other factors. The most common form is postural hypotension, which occurs after you abruptly stand or sit up. Dizziness and fainting are common symptoms, the result of inadequate blood flow to the brain. (Did you know stress can also cause dizziness and fainting?)

Treatment for low blood pressure

If your doctor diagnoses postural hypotension, diet and lifestyle changes will probably be in order. Medications to treat low blood pressure will be the last resort. Here, a few lifestyle adjustments you can try:

  • Eat salty foods, especially in hot weather or when you’re ill.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of nonalcoholic beverages daily (sports drinks high in sodium and potassium are a good bet).
  • Stretch your feet back and forth to stimulate circulation before rising from a prone or sitting position.
  • Raise the head of your bed 5° to 20° (bricks are helpful)

Adapted from Know Your Options: The Definitive Guide to Choosing The Best Medical Treatments, Reader’s Digest 2008

Next, check out what the numbers mean when you get your blood pressure checked.