Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Information about Low Blood Pressure Treatment

Information about Low Blood Pressure Treatment

If you have low blood pressure (hypotension), but you do not have any symptoms, you do not require treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms, your GP will try to establish the underlying cause of your hypotension in order to determine what treatment is necessary.

Medication

If you are taking medication, and your GP suspects that it may be causing low blood pressure, they will probably recommend a change of medication, or alter your dose. This includes medication to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), and medication to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Your blood pressure will be monitored while you are taking medication, and any changes will be noted by your GP, or practice nurse. If you are experiencing side effects from taking medication, you should discuss this with your GP.

Underlying illnesses or conditions

If your GP suspects that a disorder, such as a heart condition, adrenal gland failure, or a nerve condition, is causing your low blood pressure, you may be referred to hospital for further tests and treatment.

If adrenal gland failure is found to be causing your low blood pressure, your GP may prescribe fludrocortisone to replace the missing hormone, aldosterone. This will usually be in tablet form and will need to be taken for life.If a nerve condition is causing your low blood pressure, it can be more difficult to treat. You may be prescribed medication in order to help stimulate your nervous system.

Fluids and salt

Dehydration – when the water and salt content of your body is reduced – can cause low blood pressure. This can be easily treated by increasing your fluid and salt intake. Ensuring that you drink enough fluid (at least eight glasses a day) will help with hypotension. This is because more fluids will increase the volume of your blood, and having more blood in your arteries will increase your blood pressure.

While people who have high blood pressure are usually advised to restrict their salt intake, if you have low blood pressure, you may be advised to include more salt in your diet. Your GP will be able to advise you about how much additional salt you need, and whether you can add salt to your usual food, or if you need to take salt tablets.

General advice

The following general advice will help to limit your symptoms of your hypotension, particularly postural, or orthostatic, hypotension.

* Stand up gradually, particularly first thing in the morning. It may also be useful to try some other physical movements first to increase your heart rate and the flow of blood around your body. For example, stretching in bed before you get up, or crossing and uncrossing your legs if you are seated and about to stand.

* Wear support stockings, sometimes called compression stockings. These are tight fitting elastic socks or tights. They provide extra pressure to your feet, legs, and abdomen, which will help stimulate your circulation and increase your blood pressure.

* Raise the head of your bed, or use extra pillows under your head. This will increase the flow of blood in your body and will also make it easier when you need to get up.

* Avoid caffeine at night, and limit your alcohol intake – this will help you to avoid dehydration, which can cause low blood pressure.

* Eat small frequent meals, rather than large ones – this will help you to prevent postprandial hypotension (low blood pressure after you have eaten). Lying down after eating, or sitting still for a while, may also help.

Very few people are prescribed medication for hypotension. The symptoms of hypotension can be usually be treated by making these small changes to your lifestyle and, in particular, by increasing your fluid and salt intake.

If medication is necessary, it will usually be medicines to expand the volume of your blood, or to constrict (narrow) your arteries. By increasing your blood, or decreasing your arteries, your blood pressure will increase, as there will be more blood flowing through a smaller space.

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