What Is Hypotension? - Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:01 What Is Hypotension?
  • 0:47 Causes
  • 2:08 Symptoms
  • 2:48 Treatment Options
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Hypotension is low blood pressure - a condition we hear a lot less about compared to high blood pressure. Learn what causes blood pressure to drop, what the symptoms are, and what kinds of treatment options exist for this condition.

What Is Hypotension?

Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure, meaning the body isn't getting enough blood. With this condition, your heart doesn't adequately circulate blood to various regions of the body. The normal blood pressure range is between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg, so if you have hypotension, you'll have a blood pressure below 90/60 mmHg. The top number is the systolic value, which indicates how hard the blood pushes when the heart beats. The bottom number is the diastolic value, which indicates how hard the blood pushes between heart beats. Blood pressure can vary throughout the day, but hypotension generally refers to chronic low blood pressure.


So, what causes hypotension? A sudden drop in blood pressure occurs if you have been injured and lost a significant amount of blood. This is also known as shock, and it can occur during or after a heart attack, as a result of a severe infection, as part of an allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, or in response to another disease like diabetes or a thyroid disorder.

Hypotension may also occur after a sudden change in body position. Have you ever felt lightheaded when you stood up too fast? This happens because you undergo a brief drop in blood pressure, and it temporarily makes you dizzy. However, the feeling typically passes quickly. This is called orthostatic hypotension. Sometimes, you might experience hypotension after standing for a long time; this is called neurally mediated hypotension. This most commonly affects kids and young adults, and it is something most people grow out of in time. Additional causes of hypotension may include medications, alcohol use, diuretics, nerve damage, dehydration, or heart failure.

It is also important to note that some people naturally have lower-than-normal blood pressures, and they may not experience any symptoms at all. In fact, people who regularly exercise usually have lower blood pressures than people who don't exercise at all.

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