Hypertension vs. Hypotension: The Highs and Lows of Blood Pressure

by bcbsm

| 4 min read

Hypertension vs. Hypotension
According to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Health of America Report, hypertension is the number one health condition impacting commercially insured Americans today, with 12.5% of the country dealing with its symptoms and repercussions. People living in the Eastern, Southeastern, and Southern United States are primarily affected by hypertension. Keeping an eye on your blood pressure level is very important for healthy heart and organ function. If not properly monitored and maintained, high or low blood pressure levels can lead to an assortment of health risks. To fully understand how blood pressure impacts your health, it’s important to learn the causes and symptoms of hypertension versus hypotension during National High Blood Pressure Month and beyond.

Defining Hypertension and its Symptoms

Definition: Blood pressure reading of 130/80 or higher Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension is when too much blood is being pumped into your arteries which can cause life-threatening conditions like heart disease and stroke. Hypertension is the most common cardiovascular disease, impacting nearly 75 million American adults or one in every three American adults. However, people often don’t realize they have hypertension because it rarely shows symptoms. High blood pressure is common in individuals who are African-American, older than 55, overweight, inactive, heavy alcohol drinkers, and/or smokers. You can be proactive in monitoring your blood pressure by understanding whether high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes runs in your family. You should also look out for:
  • Severe headaches
  • Fatigue or confusion
  • Vision problems
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
Hypertension increases the risk of developing other chronic conditions including high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart failure. Not only does it increase your risk of developing other chronic conditions, but that risk also increases with age starting among young adults. In fact, in 2016, 6% of millennials ages 18-34 were diagnosed with hypertension, which is a 19% growth rate from 2014. To treat hypertension, consider a few lifestyle changes including maintaining a diet low in sodium, exercising regularly, and limiting caffeine consumption.

Defining Hypotension and its Symptoms

Definition: Blood pressure reading of 90/60 or lower Hypotension, or low blood pressure, means blood is not fully flowing to your brain, arteries, and organs. Chronic low blood pressure without symptoms is almost never cause for concern, unless blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain is deprived of adequate blood supply. This can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. Other symptoms include:
  • Unsteadiness
  • Dimming or blurring of vision
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Fainting
  • Pale skin
While it isn’t entirely clear what causes low blood pressure, it may be associated with age, pregnancy, hormonal problems (hypothyroidism, diabetes, and low blood sugar), some over-the-counter/prescription medications, heart failure or arrhythmias, widening of blood vessels, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or liver disease. To combat hypotension, there are a few options including eating a diet higher in salt, staying hydrated with nonalcoholic beverages, and exercising regularly.

Blood Pressure Monitoring Tips

In order to monitor your blood pressure level, you need to run regular tests. This could include visiting your doctor’s office, a retail health clinic, or purchasing an at-home monitor. If you’re planning to monitor your blood pressure at home, remember these things:
  • Avoid certain habits: Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages, or exercise 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.
  • Proper posture: For the most adequate reading, sit with your back straight and supported, keeping your feet flat on the floor and arm supported on a flat surface. Reference your monitor’s guide to ensure proper placement on your arm.
  • Quantity is key: Each time you measure, you should take multiple readings and record the result to ensure accuracy and consistency.
  • Run daily tests: It’s important to take the readings at close to the same time each day. For example, if you typically take the tests in the morning, you wouldn’t want to switch to the evenings on any given day. Consult your doctor regarding the frequency of testing after you’ve changed treatment or before your next appointment.
  • Don’t take measurements over clothes: Placing the monitor over clothing will not provide the most accurate results and therefore provide misinformation.
Looking for more information? You may also be interested in these blogs:
Photo credit: Gadini

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8 Comments

A
Abubakr Muhammad

Jun 4, 2021 at 6:31am

This impormation is helpful

B
Blues Perspectives

Dec 16, 2020 at 3:27pm

Hi Tasha. We understand your hesitation with worrying your parents, but they can help support you and accompany you to your doctor's visit when the time comes. It might feel scary now, but you do have a support system that can help you on your health journey. We encourage you to take these next steps with your parents as soon as you can. - Candice

T
Tasha

Dec 16, 2020 at 9:30am

Hi, i am 15,and i have anemia for few months now and in last few days i did pass out in the middle of the room and last night i FELT like im gonna pass out again so i just sat on the floor, i didnt pass out but when I got up my whole body was shaking and i felt weird and like i couldn't hold my body, its just really scary sometimes and its driving me crazy, but im scared to go to doctors especially now and i dont want my parents to be worried, can anyone help me out by giving any advice, or just anything, thank you. Tasha

P
PatientMD Healthcare

Jul 24, 2020 at 6:34am

how hypertension creates high blood pressure, thanks for sharing nice article.

S
Stephen Braley

Jul 8, 2020 at 11:24am

I am constantly plagued with bouts of hypotension in the a.m. and hypertension in the afternoon and evening. I have been on Amlodipine 10 mg tab 1 every day and Carvedilol 6.25 mg tab every day in the past. I dropped the Carvedilol in April 2020 but the Amlodipine OVER treats my hypertension and causes me to become hypotensive and faint in the middle of the night and in the a.m. at the gym. My Dr. (P.A.) recently discussed this with me and dropped my Amlodipine to 5 mg, telling me to take it when my B/P is over 140/90. I still have problems with hypotension when I do this. I have been having this issue with high/low blood pressure for years now, and have even passed out in the night when I get up to go to the bathroom, because my B/P is too low. It is terrible to live this way! Any advice? Thank you!

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