Causes and risk factors
Across Europe, doctors have very different opinions about low blood pressure, or hypotension.
In the UK, it’s usually considered to be unimportant, unless caused by blood loss, trauma, severe infection or toxic shock. But in countries such as Germany and France, many people take regular medication for low blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood against the walls of the main arteries. Blood pumping through arteries at a high rate is called systolic pressure, and a low rate is called diastolic. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded as the systolic figure followed by the diastolic.
What is a normal level?
Normal blood pressure in a healthy young adult is about 110/70, but some people are quite healthy and happy with a blood pressure as low as 90/60. These people also often have a slightly slower pulse rate than normal (less than 70). Top-class athletes often have low blood pressure and a slow pulse, so some doctors believe low blood pressure is a sign you’re particularly healthy.
But some research has linked low blood pressure to certain symptoms such as feeling tired, lethargic and mildly depressed. Also, if blood pressure is low enough to affect the blood supply to the brain, it can cause dizziness and fainting, especially if you stand up suddenly.
This particular type of low blood pressure, which only occurs on standing up, is known as postural hypotension. It may be harmful because of the risk of fainting and hurting yourself. It’s also linked to conditions such as diabetes, where nerve damage has affected the normal control of blood pressure, and can also occur when taking certain medicines.
There’s no known link between low blood pressure and having problems conceiving.
Treatment and recovery
If you feel well, most doctors (in the UK at least) would say you don’t need treatment. Taking medicines during pregnancy can harm the foetus, so it’s important to avoid medical treatments if possible.
There’s just one thing you might want to check. If you’re dehydrated or not well, your blood pressure may be low or fall easily when you stand. Ensure you’re drinking plenty of fluids – that’s several glasses a day in a cool climate and more in a hot climate.