Monday, June 16, 2008

Low Blood Pressure

A 20 year old girl studying in College came to me other day with a complaint of 'low pressure'.She was referring to her blood pressure.A homeopath had told her that she is suffering from a condition called 'low blood pressure' and asked her to take lot of salt daily.
I get several such patients.Most of them are thin built girls in their late teens or 20s.When I ask them about their symptoms most of them have occasional dizziness,fatigue and tendency to vomit.Most often it is after a tiring day at school or college. They get better after eating something or resting after some time.
When I checked her BP it was 100 systolic and 64 diastolic.She did not had any symptoms then.Her mother is taking medicines for high blood pressure.
Low pressure as a diagnosis in healthy adults is a myth. Normal blood pressure is usually defined as systolic BP below 120 and diastolic BP below 80. The lower limit is never specified. A low blood pressure in otherwise healthy individual can be considered as sign of cardiovascular well being. See this site for a detailed information.
Then how come this myth is so popular? Many people including health care workers and medical professionals has an erroneous belief that normal blood pressure should be 120/80.
Also it is easy to blame the blood pressure for the vague symptoms.Most of the symptoms attributed to low blood pressure is due to positional vertigo,migraine or Anemia.
Is there any harm in this belief?Obviously there is.I had seen many women in their 40s and 50s when told that they have high blood pressure express surprise.They had always been told that their Blood pressure is low and was advised to eat more salt. Most probably this increased salt in their diet might have precipitated Hypertension[High Blood Pressure] as their age advanced.
So here after if somebody tells you an out patient diagnosis that you are suffering from 'low blood pressure' take it with a pinch of salt.[Actually I meant no excess salt]

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