How to Increase Blood Pressure (Hypotension) to Normal Levels in Indian Patients

Last modified on October 2020
With inputs from Dr. Pragnya Rao - General Physician

Blood pressure is a term used to describe the force that your heart exerts to pump blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is measured as the force exerted by the column of blood against the arterial walls. It is read in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers: a higher number over a lower number. The one on top is systolic blood pressure – this is the force your blood reaches with every heartbeat. The one below is the diastolic blood pressure – the pressure the blood exerts over the walls of your arteries as the heart relaxes in between each beat.

The average measurement used as a benchmark for evaluating blood pressure is 120 over 80. In this reading, 120 is the systolic blood pressure, and 80 is the diastolic blood pressure. This reading is considered normal and rules out any issues with blood pressure.

In India, hypertension (high blood pressure) is a growing concern, but low blood pressure (hypotension) can also cause serious problems. Thus, if you are experiencing low blood pressure, it is important that you are aware of how to increase blood pressure and take steps to normalize your BP levels.

Chapter 1: What Is Low Blood Pressure?

Low blood pressure is diagnosed when a blood pressure check reveals a reading that falls dangerously below the average levels. In a blood pressure reading – if the systolic number at the top is 90 or less and the diastolic number at the bottom falls to 60 or lower – it is low blood pressure. Knowing how to increase blood pressure could come in handy in the face of a crisis.

With low blood pressure, the heart beats slower than average, and this causes the blood flowing in the veins to reach all the organs slowly. This impacts the blood flow to the various organs and affects the overall functioning of the body.

Compared to high blood pressure, low blood pressure is less common. When a patient is diagnosed with hypotension, the main concern is how to increase blood pressure.

Causes of Low Blood Pressure

Since high blood pressure is more commonly spoken about, most of us are aware of its causes. However, not many are aware of what exactly causes low blood pressure or how to increase blood pressure.

The more common causes of blood pressure include:

1. Heart Diseases

Heart attacks and other types of heart diseases directly affect the beating of the heart. During a heart attack, depending on the type, the heartbeats become slower or faster. A slow beating of the heart is called bradycardia. Low output heart failure happens when the heart has become so weak that it cannot pump blood adequately. Since this type of heart failure commonly causes low blood pressure, it is important to know how to increase BP in case of emergencies.

2. Postural Hypotension

Medically called orthostatic hypotension, postural hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure while changing positions from lying down to being seated or vice versa. The decrease in pressure causes lightheadedness and can even lead to the person losing consciousness. Dehydration, lack of food for a long period, or prolonged lying down can lead to postural hypotension.

3. Pregnancy

Pregnancy can have a lot of influence on a woman’s blood pressure. The experience of carrying a baby leads to a lot of changes internally in the body. The circulatory system in a woman’s body expands to include that of her child during pregnancy. This expansion could lead to a drop in blood pressure as the heart slowly adjusts to the change.

Generally, low blood pressure is not a cause for concern; however, if the pressure drops to extremely low levels or is consistently low, it could lead to falls and/or low birth weight of the baby. Consult a gynecologist in case of an emergency.

4. Neurological Causes

The brain is the epicenter that controls all the functions of the body. A miscommunication of signals between the heart and the brain could cause a drop in blood pressure.

After sitting down or standing for a long time, you change positions, the signal from the brain, and the speed with which the heart regulates the blood flow could lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure. This sudden drop could lead to nausea and dizziness.

5. Deficiency in Diet

One of the leading causes of hypotension is a lack of proper nutrition in the regular diet. Vitamin B12 is an essential component of your diet and plays a critical role in the health of the nervous system and the production of red blood cells. Although this deficiency is mostly found in the elderly, it could still hit even the younger generation, especially those on vegan diets.

6. Allergic Reactions

Mild allergic reactions might cause itchiness and rashes on the skin. These can usually be treated with topical ointments and over the counter prescription medicines. However, a severe allergy could lead to anaphylactic shock.

Anaphylactic shock causes a sudden surge of chemicals into the immune system, which causes your airways to narrow and leads to low blood pressure. They need to be treated in a hospital.

7. Hormonal Issues

The adrenal gland that is situated on top of the kidneys holds the necessary hormones for survival. The hormone cortisol, which controls the flight or fight response, is secreted by the adrenal glands. Any disturbance in the functioning of the gland disturbs the circulatory system’s overall functioning, which could lead to low blood pressure.

Effects of Low Blood Pressure

Sudden low blood pressure could be caused by stress, prescribed medicines or even hunger. Low BP becomes a cause for concern only when it persists over a long period, or if a person experiences low blood pressure very frequently.

Immediate action is taken by doctors or medical professionals only when the low blood pressure causes repeated bouts of nausea, dizziness, and fainting. Loss of consciousness could lead to falling down and getting injured, which could lead to other complications.

Summary:
– The numerical range of 120/80 mmHg should be your benchmark in assessing your blood pressure levels.
– Buying a portable machine that tests your blood pressure at home is the best way to understand when and how your pressure fluctuates if you are prone to dips in blood pressure. These machines are handheld devices that give an accurate reading of blood pressure.

You can consult a good cardiologist online on MFine!

Chapter 2: Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure in Indian Patients

Usually, low blood pressure does not have many visible symptoms the way high blood pressure, hypertension does. As long as low blood pressure does not have any visible signs, it is a mild case and could be attributed to prolonged time between meals, or too much sweating.

Low blood pressure is a cause for concern when symptoms manifest and persist over a prolonged period. The main symptoms of seriously low blood pressure include:

1. Dizziness

Prolonged loss of pressure or an abrupt dip in pressure can cause an imbalance in the working of the blood circuitry. The sudden change in pressure could cause a feeling of dizziness and can even lead to a loss of consciousness, which can be prevented provided you are aware of how to increase blood pressure.

2. Blurry Vision

This is especially common when you stand up after sitting or lying down for a long period. If you are experiencing low blood pressure, then your vision might suddenly blackout or become blurry. This usually clears up after a few seconds.

3. Nausea

Nausea due to low blood pressure happens when the pressure drops suddenly. A cause for concern with low blood pressure is chronic nausea, which occurs due to repeated imbalance in pressure caused by changes in posture.

4. Weakness and Pale Skin

With low blood pressure, the speed with which blood flows through the body is compromised. This causes the organs to function at a less than optimal level, leading to the overall weakness of the body and pale skin.

5. Trouble Concentrating

When the blood flow to the brain slows down, it directly impacts its functioning. Cognitive impairment could be a sign of chronic low blood pressure. You might have trouble paying attention or processing information if you have low blood pressure.

Important:

“Low blood pressure is relatively low risk when compared to high blood pressure. You can increase blood pressure to normal levels by keeping yourself hydrated, including more salt in your diet and eating small meals every few hours. In severe cases where your blood pressure is still not reaching an optimal level, your doctor might prescribe certain medication.”
– Dr. Pragnya Rao, General Physician

Summary:
– Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure include dizziness, trouble concentrating, weakness, and nausea.
– If you notice these symptoms occurring frequently, you should visit a doctor to get your blood pressure checked and find out how to increase your BP.
– Chronic low blood pressure impacts all the body’s routine functions, so it’s essential you get treatment for it.

You can consult a good cardiologist online on MFine!

Chapter 3: How To Increase Blood Pressure to Normal Levels: Important Tips

Unlike high blood pressure, which is extremely dangerous if left unattended, low blood pressure is comparatively less high risk. Hypotension can be managed with a few lifestyle changes without having to resort to medications. Once you have been diagnosed with hypotension, the next step is to find ways to increase blood pressure to optimum levels.

1. Medicines

In cases where low BP cannot be improved through lifestyle changes and diet, your doctor might prescribe medication to raise blood pressure.

Medication helps in increasing low pressure caused by any underlying issue. With this medicine, sodium is retained in the kidneys, resulting in fluid retention and swelling, which increases blood pressure.

Medicine to increase blood pressure to a safe level also induces the smallest arteries to increase blood pressure in cases of postural hypotension.

2. Thyroid Levels

Thyroid levels should be checked regularly irrespective of gender. Thyroid problems can hit women as well as men. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce the optimal amount of thyroid hormone. This impacts the heartbeat of an individual. Once the heartbeat slows down, the pressure of blood also lowers. This causes fluctuation in the blood pressure levels.

Hypothyroidism usually affects people 60 years of age or older.

An endocrinologist is trained to study and provide help in case of any problems with the hormonal glands. If your thyroid tests come back low, your doctor will prescribe medication to stimulate the thyroid gland, which will result in high heart rate and blood pressure.

Any medication should be taken in the correct dosage as prescribed by your doctor for your condition.

3. Salt in Diet

There is a direct connection between your sodium intake and health. Salt, which is a combination of sodium and chloride, helps in retaining water in the body. Liquid retained in the body causes bloating and swelling in ankles and other joints. Increased water in the body exerts more pressure on the heart. If your blood pressure is low to begin with, then increasing sodium intake can increase blood pressure and bring it to normal levels.

It is recommended that an individual with low blood pressure should have at least 6 grams of salt (RDA).

In cases of low blood pressure, doctors generally advise patients to increase the amount of salt they include in their food. Even though salt increases BP, the salt intake needs to be monitored as too much salt could increase blood pressure levels to dangerously high levels and lead to other severe problems. However, if you are experiencing a sudden dip in blood pressure, a salty snack can be a good way to increase blood pressure instantly.

4. Keeping Hydrated

There are instances in which a sudden drop in pressure could be attributed to dehydration. This is because fundamentally, blood is made up of water. The blood volume in the cells determines how much fluid is circulating inside the body.

With dehydration (which can be caused by diarrhoea, excessive vomiting, etc.), the liquid content in blood will reduce, which reduces the blood pressure and causes dizziness and nausea. A huge drop in blood pressure prevents blood from reaching organs and could cause an individual to shock.

In the case of dehydration, the first thing a doctor would suggest is to consume oral rehydration solutions (ORS). ORS is a mix of sugar, salt, and electrolytes, which help the body absorb more water and restore the lost fluids that inhibit blood flow.

The best way to keep hydrated is to drink a tall glass of water every forty five minutes.

5. Eating a Balanced Diet

If you’re wondering how to increase blood pressure, start off with a balanced diet. A balanced diet provides the body with carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and the required amount of fiber.

People with hypotension are advised to snack in between large meals to avoid a drop in blood pressure due to hunger.

A full plate consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean meats or plant-based protein, and a portion of rice or other carbs is one of the best-balanced meals to nourish your body and increase blood pressure to normal levels. Usually, a balanced low blood pressure diet consists of a moderate amount of salt as this can increase blood pressure. However, excessive sodium could lead to hypertension and even more severe health conditions, so make sure you don’t go overboard on salty foods and stick to healthy foods to increase your blood pressure.

6. Minimise Alcohol

Alcohol tends to relax the blood vessels, and this reduces the overall blood pressure in the body. The low pressure can make a person feel dizzy and become more prone to accidents.

Alcohol causes deficiencies like vitamin B12 and folate, which are also common in those suffering from hypotension.

Alcohol tends to decrease blood pressure by 2-4 mmHg when it is consumed in moderation. However, this effect is actually reversed when a person drinks alcohol in excess. Too much alcohol increases blood pressure to a dangerous level. Moreover, the body breaks it down into various components that are incredibly harmful to your health in the long run. Thus, minimizing your weekly alcohol intake can go a long way in improving your overall health and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

7. Treating Bacterial and Viral Infections

Bacterial and viral infections cause harm to the body when left untreated. Severe infections could cause a person to go into septic shock, which could even result in death if left untreated.

In order to fight the infection, the immune system releases cytokines. The cytokines widen the blood vessels to allow more blood to flow around the wounded area. The widening of the blood vessels leads to a drop in blood pressure.

Septic shock is an extremely dangerous condition and needs to be treated at a hospital.

Synopsis:
– Hypotension can be managed by following a proper low blood pressure diet and modifying unhealthy lifestyle choices.
– Medicines are only prescribed after lifestyle changes do not improve blood pressure levels.
– Postural hypotension is one of the few types of hypotension that require medication to be treated.

Chapter 4: Indian Low Blood Pressure Diet to Increase Blood Pressure

Your daily diet plays a huge role in your overall health and wellness. If you are suffering from chronic low blood pressure and are wondering how to increase blood pressure, the answer is very simple! Changing your dietary habits can help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life

Here are a few important general dietary guidelines to follow if you are experiencing low blood pressure.

1. Snack Between Meals

Unlike with high blood pressure, low blood pressure doesn’t require you to strictly moderate or eliminate certain foods from your diet. However, changing your meal cycles and consuming low blood pressure food can play a significant role in stabilizing your blood pressure. Eating small meals throughout the day can prevent your BP from dipping dangerously low. Snack on healthy foods like fruits and nuts rather than junk foods like chips and biscuits.

2. Add More Salt in Food

Previously, we discussed how salt affects blood pressure. Salt, in moderation, is important for your body because it can help in water retention and maintain your bodily functions. More water content raises blood pressure, which is useful if you are suffering from low blood pressure.

However, salt must be had in moderation as too much of it can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn could affect the kidneys and heart. If you have been diagnosed with low blood pressure, try to include at least 5-6 mg of salt in your meals throughout the day.

As a drink between meals, you can include lime water infused with salt and water as it is an effective low blood pressure food which also helps in keeping you hydrated.

3. Foods Rich in Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is available in abundance naturally in many food items like fish, poultry, meat, eggs, milk, and milk products. You can easily get your daily dose of vitamin b12 by including more of these foods in your diet. If you abstain from these foods or are on a vegan diet, then a vitamin B12 supplement will come in useful.

Your doctor may conduct blood tests to determine whether there is a deficiency of vitamin B12 in the body and will then prescribe vitamin supplements to help you overcome it.

4. Caffeine

Caffeine provides the body with an instant boost of energy and can increase low blood pressure levels very quickly. The energy provided by consuming caffeine, however, lasts only for a couple of hours at most.

Consuming caffeine results in the adrenal glands releasing hormones that fire up the fight or flight response of your body. The excess adrenaline restricts the widening of blood vessels and causes them to remain narrow. The narrowing of blood vessels in the face of excess adrenaline hormones causes an increase in blood pressure.

Caffeine is good for you in the short term in moderation. However, excess consumption is detrimental to health and could lead to more severe issues like sleep deprivation, dehydration, heart palpitations, and digestive problems.

5. Fluids

Drinking enough fluids keeps the blood flowing through the cells with adequate viscosity. Although plain water is your best bet to stay hydrated, natural fruit juices can also help keep hydrated.

The Fluid intake is dependent on age, gender, weight, and overall health of an individual. What is enough for one is not the same for anyone else.

Instead of plain water, water infused with various fruits like lemons, cucumbers, ginger, or even oranges to impart some flavour into your beverages. Electrolytes in salt-infused water are best for helping the body absorb and retain fluids if you are suffering from a severe case of dehydration.

6. Folate-Rich Dietṣ

Folate is also known as vitamin B9. This vitamin is responsible for the production of DNA and repairing DNA strands when required. Folate is also needed to produce red blood cells in the body.

Vitamin B9 deficiency leads to weakness, lethargy, and even growth problems. Severe folate deficiency could also lead to anaemia and hypotension.

Depending on the severity of deficiency, a doctor might prescribe vitamin supplements to increase the body’s level of folate. However, you can increase the amount of vitamin B9 in the body by consuming high folate foods.

Almost every green, leafy vegetable has a high quantity of folate. Other than this, you can include lentils, beans, fortified breakfast cereals, avocados, nuts and seeds and fruits in your diet as they are excellent natural sources of folate.

7. Carbohydrates Intake

Carbohydrates are converted into glucose and serve as energy for your body to perform various tasks. They are, therefore, an essential component of a balanced diet. However, it is important that you consume the right kinds of carbohydrates.

Complex carbs like brown rice, wholewheat chapatis and oats keep you full for longer and prevent your blood pressure from fluctuating between meals.

Synopsis:
– You increase blood pressure at home by consuming small meals frequently and following a healthy balanced diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and complex carbs.
– It is also important that you get screened for vitamin deficiencies. In cases of deficiency in vitamin b12 or folate, you can consider taking supplements.

You can consult a good cardiologist online on MFine!

Chapter 5: Bonus Tips to Increase Blood Pressure

In addition to the points mentioned in the previous chapters, there are several low blood pressure food home remedies that you can try as well. Many of these foods are commonly available in Indian households and are touted for their various health benefits.

Tulsi Leaves

Tulsi leaves are part of the holy basil plant. The plant is grown abundantly in the Indian subcontinent. The consumption of these leaves is highly beneficial to the body and they are a known immunity booster.

Raising water retention in the body is one of the most effective ways to increase blood pressure. However, retention of water may sometimes lead to loss of potassium, which is an essential mineral needed to function at an optimum level. The potassium content in tulsi leaves is high, and thus drinking tulsi tea is a good way to support your diet for raising low blood pressure.

Almonds

Almonds are an excellent food to eat to increase BP to normal levels and one of the healthiest snacking options you can choose. Packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and essential vitamins; almonds are truly a treasure-trove of nutrients. This healthy nut can regulate your blood pressure.

Almonds can be soaked the previous night to make almond milk and de-skinned early the next morning. Blend the almonds with water to get a smooth texture. Almond milk can be used as a replacement for other dairy products, as it has a lot of additional healthy nutrients. However, if your low blood pressure is caused by vitamin b12 deficiency, then it’s best to continue to consume dairy products

Synopsis:
– You increase blood pressure at home by consuming small meals frequently and following a healthy balanced diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and complex carbs.
– It is also important that you get screened for vitamin deficiencies. In cases of deficiency in vitamin b12 or folate, you can consider taking supplements.

You can consult a good cardiologist online on MFine!

Chapter 6: FAQs

Q1. My BP is 95/70 mmHg. Is it too low?

The overall regular blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg. The above number is the highest pressure with every heartbeat, and the lower number is the pressure when the heart relaxes between two pulses.

Low blood pressure is diagnosed when the BP reading is 90/60 or lower. In many cases, it can be normal, but if your low bp corresponds with symptoms like fainting and dizziness, you should consult with your doctor on how to increase blood pressure.

Q2. In BP reading, is the top number or the bottom number more important?

Both numbers stand for different measurements in assessing blood pressure. Both these numbers are equally vital in analysing the occurrence of heart attacks or a sudden stroke.

Systolic blood pressure is when the bottom number is standard, but the top number is not in the normal range. However, over the age of 40, a high or low systolic number is more concerning than a fluctuating diastolic number.

Q3. What is postural hypotension?

Hypotension can have different causes. One of the leading reasons for low blood pressure is due to a change in posture. Postural hypotension is the result of a sudden change in pressure when you have been sitting for a long time and then stand or vice versa.

Q4. Will eating right help improve my blood pressure?

Ultimately, what you eat has a massive influence on how healthy you are. In the case of blood pressure, whether it is high or low, the best way to bring your levels back to normal via a holistic approach is to eat a balanced meal.

The meal should be a combination of proteins, fibre, healthy fats, and the correct amount of carbohydrates. Try to include the right amount of nuts and seeds into your snacks as well.

Q5. Do I need any medicines to bring up my blood pressure?

If you are wondering how to increase your blood pressure, please bear in mind that medication is a last resort measure. Any doctor will first recommend lifestyle modifications in your low blood pressure diet before they prescribe any medicine. Medicine is also only prescribed when the hypotension is caused due to change in posture.

Q6. Is there any way to increase BP instantly

If you have a BP machine at home, and the result is a low BP, the best way to increase BP instantly is by consuming some salt. Salt can be had by mixing a few pinches with a glass of water. Not only does it raise pressure immediately, but it also increases the electrolytes in the body, helping to absorb more water.

Q7. Are bananas good for low blood pressure?

Any home remedy or medicine targeted to increase BP is done by making the body retain more water. Although this is good for increasing BP, it does lead to a loss in potassium. Since bananas are a good source of potassium, they are suitable for supporting your blood pressure treatment.

Conclusion

You might think that low blood pressure is a boon and that you don’t have to worry about hypertension. While in many cases, low BP can be normal, if it is accompanied by symptoms like fainting, dizziness, and lack of concentration, you should speak to a doctor about it.

Understanding what causes low blood pressure and recognizing the signs of the condition is crucial to get treatment for it quickly

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