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10 Symptoms of Hypotension

By By NRI Staff • Updated November 17, 2022

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Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the resistance to blood flow in your vessels. When your blood pressure drops too low, it’s called hypotension. Hypotension is a condition that can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Some people with hypotension may not experience any symptoms at all. If you do have symptoms, they may come and go and vary in intensity.

While hypertension is more common, hypotension can be dangerous if not treated correctly. When you experience a drop in blood pressure, it can cause a variety of symptoms. Here are 10 signs that you may be experiencing hypotension.

1. Dizziness

One of the most common causes of dizziness in people with low blood pressure is orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is a type of low blood pressure that occurs when a person stands up after sitting or lying down. When a person stands up, the body’s normal response is to increase blood flow to the brain. This increase in blood flow helps to maintain blood pressure and prevent fainting. When the body’s blood pressure falls too low, it can cause blood vessels in the brain to dilate and lead to a feeling of dizziness. This occurs because insufficient blood flow to the brain can deprive it of the oxygen and glucose it needs to function properly.

man holding head from dizziness

2. Nausea

Nausea is a feeling of uneasiness in the stomach that can sometimes lead to vomiting. Hypotension can cause nausea because the body is not getting enough blood flow. When there is not enough blood flow to the stomach, it can cause the stomach acids to come up into the esophagus and cause nausea.

nauseous man covering his mouth

3. Fatigue

One common symptom of hypotension is fatigue. There are several reasons why hypotension can cause fatigue. One is that when your blood pressure falls, your heart has to work harder to circulate blood throughout your body which can lead to an overall feeling of tiredness. Additionally, low blood pressure can cause a decrease in the amount of oxygen reaching your tissues. This can also lead to fatigue. Finally, when your blood pressure is low, you may not be getting enough blood and oxygen to the brain. This can cause symptoms such as lightheadedness and dizziness, which can also lead to fatigue.

man leaning his face on his left hand

4. Lightheadedness

When blood pressure falls too low, it can cause lightheadedness. The reason why hypotension can cause lightheadedness is that when the blood pressure falls too low, not enough blood reaches the brain. This can lead to a shortage of oxygen and nutrients in the brain, which can cause symptoms such as lightheadedness and dizziness.

man in blue crew neck shirt covering his face

5. Difficulty Concentrating

The human brain is an incredibly complex organ that requires a steady flow of blood in order to function properly. When blood pressure drops too low, the brain doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs, which can lead to problems with concentration and focus. These symptoms can make it difficult to focus on tasks at work or school, and can also lead to fatigue and mood swings. 

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6. Fainting

When someone experiences a sudden drop in blood pressure, this can cause the person to faint. This occurs because not enough blood is getting to the brain, which can lead to a lack of oxygen. When the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, this can lead to fainting. There are a few things that can contribute to a sudden drop in blood pressure, such as dehydration, overheating, or standing up too quickly. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

woman laying on bed

7. Blurry Vision

Blurry vision is a common symptom of hypotension. When the body’s blood pressure falls below a certain point, the optic nerve can become compressed, leading to a loss of vision clarity. This is because when the blood pressure is low, there is less blood flow to the eyes. The decrease in blood flow can cause the lens of the eye to swell and change shape, which results in blurry vision. In addition, a person with hypotension may also experience dry eyes and difficulty focusing.

8. Rapid/Shallow Breathing

When a person’s blood pressure falls too low, the body’s organs don’t get the blood and oxygen they need to function properly. This can cause the heart to beat faster in an attempt to move more blood around the body. The heart is also working harder to push blood through narrowed arteries. The combination of a faster heart rate and narrowed arteries can cause rapid, shallow breathing because there isn’t enough blood getting to the lungs. This can prevent the lungs from exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen effectively. When carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream, it makes the person feel short of breath.

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9. Clammy Skin

Clammy skin is caused by a decrease in blood flow to the skin. When the body doesn’t have enough blood flowing through it, the blood vessels in the skin start to dilate. This causes the blood to flow closer to the surface of the skin, which makes it cooler. In addition, since there isn’t as much blood flowing through the body, it can’t transport as much oxygen and nutrients to the skin. This can also make the skin feel cool, sweaty and clammy.

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10. Weak Pulse

When the body’s blood pressure is low, it can’t circulate blood as well. This can cause a weak pulse. This is because the heart isn’t able to pump as much blood as it should be, and therefore the blood doesn’t travel as far throughout the body. This can cause a number of health problems, such as a lack of oxygen to the brain and other organs. In some cases, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can lead to a number of problems, including lightheadedness and fainting.

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Sources:

Sathyapalan, T et al. “Postural hypotension.” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 342 d3128. 16 Jun. 2011, doi:10.1136/bmj.d3128

Rafanelli, Martina, and Andrea Ungar. “High blood pressure and syncope: orthostatic hypotension as a link.” Monaldi archives for chest disease = Archivio Monaldi per le malattie del torace vol. 84,1-2 729. 22 Jun. 2016, doi:10.4081/monaldi.2015.729

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