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HEALTH FOR THOUGHT – High/Low Blood Pressure is BAD for you

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

Most often what we hear is that “High Blood Pressure” is the evil against man’s well being. Rarely do we hear of “Low Blood Pressure”. BUT in this article, experts make it clear that one is as bad as the other.  *Babatunde Faniyan

Low blood pressure, dangerous to the brain

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By KATE HALIM on May 31, 2014 · Aspire

 

SUN Newspaper; Monday June 2, 2014

basic-blood-pressure-chart

Low blood pressure also called hypotension, is blood pressure that is low enough that the flow of blood to the organs of the body is inadequate and symptoms or signs of low blood flow develop. Blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. It constitutes one of the critically important signs of life or vital signs which include heart beat, breathing and temperature. It is generated by the heart pumping blood into the arteries modified by the response of the arteries to the flow of blood. An individual’s blood pressure is expressed as systolic/diastolic blood pressure, for example, 120/80. Systolic blood pressure, which is the top number, represents the pressure in the arteries as the muscle of the heart contracts and pumps blood into them. Shedding more light on hypotension, a General Practitioner, Dr. Emmanuel Omonaiye, said the normal blood pressure for every adult should be 120/80. He however, stated that people who are naturally hypotensive would always have their blood pressure lower than the normal rate at 90/60. According to him, “Low pressure alone, without symptoms, usually is not unhealthy. It is when accompanied with symptoms that an individual should seek help. The symptoms of low blood pressure include weakness, fatigue, lack of concentration, blurred vision, nausea, light headedness, dizziness, and fainting. There is no specific number at which day-to-day blood pressure is considered too low, as long as no symptoms of trouble are present. Low blood pressure is equally as dangerous as high blood pressure and shouldn’t be overlooked.  ’’ Common causes of low blood pressure include a reduced volume of blood, heart disease, and medications. The cause of low blood pressure can be determined with blood tests, radiologic studies, and cardiac testing to look for arrhythmias. Omonaiye said that people more susceptible to hypotension are athletes, pregnant women and people who have been on prolonged bed rest. Dehydration can sometimes cause blood pressure to drop. However, dehydration does not automatically signal low blood pressure. During the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, it’s common for blood pressure to drop, says Omonaiye. ‘’A decrease in blood volume can also cause blood pressure to drop. A significant loss of blood from major trauma, dehydration or severe internal bleeding reduces blood volume, leading to a severe drop in blood pressure.’’ ‘’Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious condition in which your body loses more water than you take in. Even mild dehydration, a loss of as little as 1 percent to 2 percent of body weight, can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.’’ When people who are over sixty five years old eat heavy meals, they may witness a significant drop in their blood pressure. Such individuals are advised by doctors to eat light meals and eat more of fruits and vegetables. A number of drugs can cause low blood pressure, including diuretics and other drugs that treat hypertension; heart medications such as beta blockers; tricyclic antidepressants; erectile dysfunction drugs, particularly in combination with nitroglycerine; narcotics and alcohol. Other prescription and over-the-counter drugs may cause low blood pressure when taken in combination with HBP medications. Among the heart conditions that can lead to low blood pressure are an abnormally low heart rate (bradycardia), problems with heart valves, heart attack and heart failure. Your heart may not be able to circulate enough blood to meet your body’s needs. In addition, Endocrine problems, which are problems that include complications with hormone-producing glands in the body’s endocrine systems; specifically, an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism), parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), low blood sugar and, in some cases, diabetes can lead to low blood pressure. Septic shock can occur when bacteria leave the original site of an infection, most often in the lungs, abdomen or urinary tract and enter the bloodstream. The bacteria then produce toxins that affect blood vessels, leading to a profound and life-threatening decline in blood pressure. Omonaiye added that another cause of hypotension is nutritional deficiencies. ‘’A lack of the essential vitamins B-12 and folic acid can cause anemia, which in turn can lead to low blood pressure. Individuals who are susceptible to hypotension are advised to drink plenty water, eat more fruits and vegetables and limit alcohol intake.’’ Also, severely low blood pressure can have underlying causes that may be an indication of serious heart, endocrine or neurological disorder. It deprives the brain and other vital organs of oxygen and nutrients, ultimately leading to shock, which can be life threatening. He, however, advised the public especially those with such a condition to be conscious of their health and condition by going for regular check-up with a qualified doctor for proper management. “Just like any other disease, if low blood pressure is not treated timely, complications would arise. Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate flow of blood to the body’s organs can cause strokes, long term damage to the brain, heart attacks, and kidney failure. It’s most severe form is shock.’’ ‘’If you experience any dizziness or lightheadedness, it’s a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider. If you have gotten dehydrated, have low blood sugar or have spent too much time in the sun or a hot tub, it is more important to recognize how quickly your blood pressure drops than how low it drops. Keep a record of your symptoms and your activities at the time your symptoms occurred.’’

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