Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure (less than 90/60). A blood pressure reading appears as two numbers. The first and higher of the two is a measure of systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood.
The second number measures diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 (systolic/diastolic).
In healthy people, low blood pressure without any symptoms is not usually a concern and does not need to be treated. But low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying problem – especially in the elderly — where it may cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.
Chronic low blood pressure with no symptoms is almost never serious. But health problems can occur when blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain is deprived of an adequate blood supply.
This can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. Sudden drops in blood pressure most commonly occur in someone who’s rising from a lying down or sitting position to standing.
This kind of low blood pressure is known as postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Another type of low blood pressure can occur when someone stands for a long period of time. This is called neurally mediated hypotension.
Postural hypotension is considered a failure of the cardiovascular system or nervous system to react appropriately to sudden changes. Normally, when you stand up, some blood pools in your lower extremities. Uncorrected, this would cause your blood pressure to fall. But your body normally compensates by sending messages to your heart to beat faster and to your blood vessels to constrict. This offsets the drop in blood pressure. If this does not happen, or happens too slowly, postural hypotension results.
The risk of both low and high blood pressure normally increases with age due in part to normal changes during aging. In addition, blood flow to the heart muscle and the braindeclines with age, often as a result of plaque buildup in blood vessels. An estimated 10% to 20% of people over age 65 have postural hypotension.
Yogurt parfait: dietary approaches to stop hypertension
Yield: 1 parfait
Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients of Yogurt Parfait
- ½ cup wheat bran cereal
- 1 6oz container of vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt [better yet, plain yogurt – lower in sugar]
- ½ medium banana, sliced
- 1/8 cup sliced almonds
- 1 Tbsp chopped dried apricots
Place ¼ cup cereal in a small bowl; layer 3oz yogurt, ¼ banana, 1/16 cup almonds, ½ Tbsp apricots. Repeat.
Nutrition Stats: 300 calories, 5gm fat, 0.6gm saturated, 66mg sodium, 47gm carbohydrate, 9.5gm fiber, 27gm sugar, 22gm protein.
Other ways to lower your blood pressure
- Exercise at least 30-60 minutes 3-6 days per week
- Weight loss, if needed
- Caffeinated beverages can increase blood pressure, consume sparingly
- Quit smoking
- Practice stress management
- Increase fiber intake [fruits, vegetables, whole grains]