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What is low blood pressure (hypotension)?

Understanding your condition

Hypotension is defined as a sustained low systemic blood pressure of 90mmhg (Systolic) over 60mmhg (diastolic) or less.  

Hypotension is not considered to be a component of cardiometabolic disease, however may be a symptom of other structural or functional changes to the heart and blood vessels. These factors, along with kidney function, neurological conditions, effects of medications, shock, or loss of blood volume should be investigated before reaching a diagnosis of benign hypotension or low blood pressure without known cause.

A surprising (and common) misconception

Many people believe that having low blood pressure is healthy.  Whilst in most people, hypotension is asymptomatic and therefore does not present any clinically significant risk to the patient, symptomatic presentations need to be carefully investigated to identify any underlying condition or systemic dysfunction that results in the low blood pressure reading.

Using the functional medicine approach, our practitioners can determine the cause of hypotension and resolve it using natural methods, so that health is restored.


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Low blood pressure symptoms - what does low blood pressure feel like?

In most people hypotension will be asymptomatic and will be an incidental finding during a routine medical examination. In a small number of people hypotension will be a symptom that develops as an effect of a more serious condition requiring medical attention.

A small number of people with hypotension will experience some mild to moderate signs and symptoms of low blood pressure which may include:

  • Dizziness, especially when moving from a lying to a standing position, or if bending over
  • Fainting, especially following quick postural changes, or if exposed to high temperature environments
  • Brain fog or lack of concentration, especially if sitting for extended periods of time
  • Tiredness, fatigue or a general lack of energy

How is hypotension diagnosed?

Like with hypertension, the gold standard for diagnosing hypotension is by 24hr ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, where an automatic digital blood pressure machine is fitted and worn by the person for 24hrs, during which time the machine measures blood pressure twice per hour during waking hours, and at least once per hour during the night. The mean wake and sleep blood pressures, along with a number of other blood pressure values are calculated to determine hypotension.

There are two parts to a blood pressure reading.  The highest number, systolic blood pressure, is the maximum pressure created when the heart contracts. This can be felt as the pulse moving through an artery.  The lower number, diastolic pressure, is the minimum pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats. In a normalised, healthy population of people, blood pressure is around 120/80mmhg +/- ~20mmhg.  The lower the resting blood pressure the better, as long as it does not become too low as to become symptomatic which is known as hypotension.

What causes eczema?

There isn’t one single cause of eczema but a range of potential contributing factors that are unique to each person. These include:

Genetics

Research has found people with the ‘atopic triad’ have a defective barrier of the skin and upper and lower respiratory tracts.

These genetic alterations cause a loss of function of filaggrin (filament aggregating protein), which is a protein in the skin that normally breaks down to create natural moisturisation and protect the skin from penetration by pathogens and allergens.

Filaggrin mutations are found in approximately 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis, and also predispose people to asthma, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), keratosis pilaris (dry rough patches and bumps on the skin), and ichthyosis vulgaris (a chronic condition which causes thick, dry, scaly skin.)If one parent carries this genetic alteration, there is a 50 percent chance their child will develop atopic symptoms. And that risk increases to 80 percent if both parents are affected. 

Food allergy and sensitivity

Food hypersensitivity has been found to cause or exacerbate atopic dermatitis in 10-30% of cases, and 90% of these are caused by eggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat.

Compromised gut health

The connection between the gut microbiome and skin health is complex, however, research has found the microbiota contributes to the development, persistence, and severity of atopic dermatitis through immunologic, metabolic and neuroendocrine pathways.

Nutritional deficiencies

Deficiency of Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA) has been linked with the increased incidence of atopic dermatitis, along with the inability for the body to efficiently metabolise EFA’s to gamma linoleic acids (GLA) and arachidonic acids (AA).

Weather and environment

Changing weather conditions can certainly aggravate eczema symptoms, but the triggers are subject to change among individuals.

Hormones

Hormones also play a role in the course of atopic dermatitis, including the stress hormone cortisol which triggers an inflammatory immune response affecting all organs of the body, including the skin.

Mould exposure

Mould exposure and susceptibility to mould can cause Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), of which dermatitis is a manifestation.

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What causes low blood pressure?

Excluding hypotension associated with significant medical concerns, hypotension has no specific known cause, and will usually be caused by systemic dysfunctions that impact one of the key regulatory mechanisms for blood pressure.

The key regulatory mechanisms are:

  • The ability of the heart rate to increase and decrease responsively
  • The ability of the heart muscle to contract more or less forcefully as required
  • The ability of the blood vessels to expand and contract to control blood flow to the tissues and blood pressure
  • The ability of the body to regulate blood volume, by control fluid balance in the body

Contributing factors

As benign hypotension has no specific know cause, conditions or dysfunctions that result in the following may need to be considered as risk factors for :

  • Chronic unintentional dehydration or poor hydration practices leading to electrolyte or hormonal imbalances
  • Systemic inflammatory conditions that affect blood vessel responsiveness to expand and contract, or lead to other more serious cardiovascular or cardiometabolic diseases
  • Stress related disorders that result in syncope (fainting)

Treatment for low blood pressure (hypotension) - the conventional approach 

Whilst there are no universally accepted values for determining hypotension, it is most commonly accepted as being a systolic pressure of less than 90mmhg and a diastolic pressure of less than 60mmhg.  In many cases, hypotension is diagnosed if a patient presents with the signs of symptoms of low blood pressure without any other identifiable cause.

In asymptomatic hypotension no treatment is generally recommended.  In symptomatic patients, the treatment for low blood pressure will include investigating for a number of potentially serious underlying causes such as:

  • Abnormalities in heart structure and function
  • Renal disorders
  • Effects from medications
  • Neurological disorders

How to treat low blood pressure (hypotension) - the Melbourne Functional medicine approach 

Our cardiometabolic practitioner Mark Payne thoroughly assesses patients with hypotension through an in depth case history and further functional tests where needed. This investigative approach helps to uncover the cause of hypotension to create a plan that will outline how to treat low blood pressure to bring it back into optimal ranges, and for symptoms to resolve.

Depending on the unique clinical presentation of each patient, functional testing may be required to explore underlying factors like nutrient imbalances, hormonal imbalances (thyroid, adrenals), nervous system health, and general pathology tests including cholesterol and fasting glucose. Referral to specialist services may also be required.

Natural treatment for low blood pressure - a personalised healthcare plan

Low blood pressure specialist and functional medicine practitioner like Mark will create a personalised plan which may include:

  • Ensuring adequate hydration
  • Improving electrolyte balance
  • Addressing nutrient imbalances
  • Supporting and modulating systems involved in blood pressure regulation
  • Restoring imbalances in the thyroid glands, adrenal glands or nervous system

And, to help you fast track getting well again, we give you the ongoing support and guidance of a health coach, who is there to help you achieve your goals with ease.

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See how functional medicine is helping our patients achieve better health and richer lives.

Are you ready for a personalised, natural functional medicine treatment? Our unique model of care was designed with you in mind. Find out how here, then book a call today!

FAQs

How to control hypotension

Controlling hypotension first involves identifying what the cause of hypotension is. In some people, it can be addressed simply by ensuring adequate hydration and balancing electrolytes by having sufficient sodium intake from salty foods like olives and pickles or adding sea salt to foods. In more complex cases, determining how to treat low blood pressure may require targeted interventions that seek to address the underlying dysfunction that results in hypotension, which is best directed by an experienced practitioner.

Why is my blood pressure so low?

Very low blood pressure may be due to:

  • Chronic unintentional dehydration, or poor hydration practices, leading to electrolyte or hormonal imbalances
  • Systemic inflammatory conditions that affect blood vessel responsiveness to expand and contract, or lead to other more serious cardiovascular or cardiometabolic diseases.
  • Stress related disorders that result in syncope (fainting)
What foods are good for low blood pressure?

Here are some low blood pressure diet tips you can follow to help manage or prevent low blood pressure:


  • Stay well hydrated  - dehydration reduces blood volume and leads to a drop in the systemic blood pressure. By drinking more water, you can help increase blood pressure. Low blood pressure is often caused by low blood volume, and drinking water will increase blood volume and increase blood pressure.
  • Include vegetables and fruits high in water such as cucumbers, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, cabbage, as well as watermelon, pineapple, apples, pears, and papaya.
  • Where salt goes, water goes. By increasing your sodium intake, the blood will hold onto more fluids, increasing blood volume and consequently increasing blood pressure. Try foods such as meat, beets, carrots, beans, sauerkraut, pickled foods, and olives.
  • Include foods that are high in vitamin B12 (necessary for making red blood cells) . Too little vitamin B-12 can lead to a certain type of anaemia, which can cause low blood pressure and fatigue. Foods high in B12 include lamb and chicken liver, mussels, octopus, oysters, sardines, and egg (yolk).
  • Avoid high alcohol consumption, as alcohol works as a diuretic and causes dehydration.

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