What activies/situations can cause one's blood pressure to drop?
October 16, 2007 8:38 AM   Subscribe

What activities can cause low blood pressure?

Long story short - it turns out I have a neurological condition that makes having low blood pressure rather dangerous. My neuro has warned me against excessive amounts of exercise (basically, no triathlons for me - not that that was ever a concern), but that's about it. I'm curious about what other activities or situations can cause the blood pressure to drop. My googling has also added excessive blood loss and dehydration to the list. What else am I missing? (Also - does altitude play a factor?)
posted by cgg to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have low blood pressure, and have had quite severe attacks in the following situations:
- getting up after sitting/ lying down
- in extreme heat
- after a too-hot shower
- when dehydrated or hungry
- definitely after exercise
- coughing a lot (like if you have a chest infection) or other lack of oxygen

I haven't noticed altitude as a factor, but then I don't think I've been anywhere really high without pressurisation.

Make sure you get enough salt, if that doesn't interfere with your other treatment.
posted by goo at 9:16 AM on October 16, 2007

You might want to avoid foods, like caffeine, that tend to make you lose fluid.
posted by amtho at 10:07 AM on October 16, 2007

I used to have trouble with low blood pressure, and I'll second much of the above. The main things that would cause me to go dizzy were getting up quickly and going up stairs (possibly the exertion?). One of the worst times I passed out, my hands had been in an ice bucket (serving sodas) for about ten minutes, so I'd add "keep your extremities fairly warm" to the list of do's. Also, cutting out caffeine completely (I had been drinking two cups of tea every morning and an iced tea at lunch) really seemed to help keep me more stable in the long run.

One trick I learned: if you're feeling really light-headed or dizzy, try eating some salt. I don't know how much of a placebo it is in the short term, but eating a little bit of salt seemed to help keep me conscious.
posted by mosessis at 12:22 PM on October 16, 2007

my sister was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome which is a rare, genetic heart problem, and given a massive dose of Beta Blockers to deal with it, which have a side effect of lowering blood pressure. Add to that the fact that my family has low blood pressure already, and she was getting lightheaded and having vision problems.

She got a pace maker and was able to cut back to a tenth of her old dosage, but still has slightly low blood pressure. Her doctor (I am not making this up!) said to her she was to go on the "McDonalds and KFC diet" - basically up her salt intake to compensate for low blood pressure. Of course, you don't want to trade low blood pressure for weekly heart attacks...

Low blood pressure, as far as I hear, is often more dangerous than high - because it's more difficult to treat. Go see a doctor and get some medical advice. Stay hydrated, avoid things already listed.. and take care of yourself. This kind of thing is a bit too important to trust to amateurs :)
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:14 PM on October 16, 2007

You might want to avoid swimming. I have very low blood pressure, and I find the water's pressure on my body makes my blood pressure drop until I feel like I'm going to faint. Then of course I have to get out before I drown.

Also bad is standing still for long periods of time.
posted by orange swan at 6:31 PM on October 16, 2007

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