Symptoms of hypotension

In case of chronically low blood pressure, the following complaints may occur:

  • Tiredness and/or increased sleep requirement
  • Reduced fitness
  • Difficulties in concentrating
  • Listlessness or depressive emotional response
  • Restlessness and sleep disorders
  • Lack of drive and lassitude
  • Long “period of adjustment” in the morning
  • State of exhaustion and feeling of faintness
  • Quick fatigability and reduction of fitness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold (cold hands and/or feet primarily)
  • Pale skin

 

Circulatory complaints
In case of low blood pressure, circulatory complaints may occur when the supply of blood to the brain deteriorates, which, for example, may occur on hot, sultry days when the blood vessels dilate and heavy perspiration leads to a fluid volume deficit. The blood pressure decreases and complaints, such as fatigue and lassitude, make themselves felt. These symptoms may also occur after the meal because the blood gathers in the area of the digestive organs and is missing in the brain.

Dizziness
In case of low blood pressure, dizziness occurs when sensitive persons change their body positions too quickly – thus from lying down to sitting up or from sitting down to standing up (orthostatic hypotension). These problems may also occur when bending down. The blood rushes into the legs and belly; and the vessels cannot contract fast enough. The blood pressure decreases suddenly and the following complaints may occur:

  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Visual disturbances (flickering of the eyes)
  • Headache
  • Propensity to fainting and/or short unconsciousness (orthostatic collapse)

 

The body takes countermeasures against the drop in blood pressure: The heart starts beating faster (tachycardia); the blood vessels contract (paleness, cold hands); sweating and nausea occurs. The dizzy spell subsides as a rule after a recovery phase of a few minutes.

Fainting
Fainting (syncope) occurs when the brain is not sufficiently supplied with blood and oxygen for a short period of time caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure. First signs are dizziness, a feeling of emptiness in the head, nigrescence or flickering of the eyes. Persons affected lose consciousness for a short period of time and have no control of their muscles. They fall and find themselves lying on the floor after a few seconds.

In case of otherwise healthy persons, the most frequent reason for syncope is a deviation from the normal dilatation of the blood vessels (vasovagal syncope). As sequel to a mental stress situation (such as anxiety, pain or stress, for example), a chain reaction is triggered, at the end of which the blood pressure drops. This type of syncope announces itself some seconds beforehand as a rule through alarm signals, such as staggering vertigo, blurred vision, tunnel vision, nausea, palpitations or sweating.

An orthostatic syncope is caused by a dysregulation in the brain which also leads to a fast drop in blood pressure.

Most fainting fits are harmless and end by themselves after a few seconds. However, injuries are possible caused by a fall. Moreover, there is a high risk of injury when the affected person faints during athletic activities or in road traffic. Persons who are affected by low blood pressure and faint frequently should pursue less dangerous types of sport or should ensure special safety precautions (in mountaineering, for example). If necessary, ask your doctor whether you are subjected to a higher risk in your job or as a car driver caused by the frequent fainting fits.

In rare cases, the fainting fit is caused by a serious disease. When a syncope occurs for the first time, it is essential that you see the doctor who will carry out an extensive diagnosis.
Rarer causes of a syncope are:

  • Heart diseases (such as rhythm disturbances, heart attack or myocardial diseases, for example)
  • High loss of blood, bloodlessness (anaemia)
  • Severe fluid volume deficit
  • Nerve or brain diseases (such as damage to nerves caused by diabetes, for example)
  • Pregnancy during the last third (pressure of the child on the lower caval vein)

What is hypotension?