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Is my blood pressure too low?

November 01, 2017

Ask the doctors

Q. The July 2017 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch spoke about the potential problems related to low blood pressure when taking blood pressure medication. My readings meet the definition of low blood pressure outlined in the article, but I don't take any medication. Should I be concerned, and if so, what should I do to raise my blood pressure?

A. In general, blood pressure is deemed too low only if it causes symptoms. A normal blood pressure is defined as a reading below 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), and some experts consider your blood pressure low only if it dips below 90/60 mm Hg. However, a low reading can be normal for some people. Your doctor probably won't be too concerned about it unless it occurs suddenly; you have an underlying health condition that could cause low blood pressure, such as heart failure; or you are experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, fatigue, or nausea. Some medications, such as diuretics (water pills), some antidepressants, and beta blockers, among others, can also cause low blood pressure. But since you aren't taking any medication, this is not an issue. If you are having symptoms related to your low blood pressure, this is something you definitely want to mention to your doctor. But if you've always had low blood pressure and you're not experiencing any problems, it's likely that this is normal for your body.

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