Blood pressure is a significant vital sign. It varies depending on seasons and body position. Though gravitational forces affect blood pressure, blood is pumped around the body against them. Our body consists of as many as 52 trillion cells, and blood carries nutrients and oxygen to every single cell and takes waste products away from them.
The network of blood vessels, blood that the blood vessels transport and the heart are all organs responsible for blood circulation, making up the cardiovascular system. Our survival depends on cardiovascular health. As the cardiovascular system is regulated by the autonomic nervous system, damage to the autonomic nervous system and resultant disruption or over-reactivity of the system cause blood pressure to vary significantly depending on body position. It has a huge impact on our health.
Types of hypotension
◆ Acute hypotension is classified according to causes:
l Allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
◆ Chronic hypotension is classified into the following categories:
l Chronic asymptomatic hypotension
Ø People with chronic asymptomatic hypotension do not suffer from specific symptoms. Low blood pressure is normal for them.
l Chronic hypotension that requires treatment
Ø This type of hypotension disrupts daily life.
There are three types of this kind of hypotension.
1. Primary hypotension:
Primary hypotension is a permanent low blood pressure. It occurs regardless of body position and causes symptoms.
2. Orthostatic hypotension:
Orthostatic hypotension is defined as a drop in systolic blood pressure by more than 20 mmHg after taking a standing position. It is within a normal range in a lying position.
Idiopathic orthostatic hypotension is orthostatic hypotension whose origin cannot be determined. Secondary orthostatic hypotension has specific causes.
3. Secondary hypotension:
Secondary hypotension is caused by a disease or condition such as prolonged bed rest. Such drags as anti-depressants, anti- epileptic and anti- psychosis cause hypotension.
Common symptoms of hypotension
Fatigue is one of the major symptoms of hypotension.
Common symptoms include the following: tiredness, the lack of stamina, fragility, prolonged fatigue, easily affected by cold and/or hot weather, intolerance to the cold and heat, susceptibility to a change of seasons.
Hypotension is very common in people with myalgic encephalopathy / chronic fatigue syndrome.
Hypotension is also accompanied by loss of sexual drive, impotence, low body temperature and motion sickness. People with hypotension often eat less or have trouble putting on weight. They tend to be thin, and have sloping shoulders and splanchnoptosis.
Symptoms that affect specific organs
1. Symptoms caused by insufficient cerebral circulation
Insufficient blood flow to the brain causes dizziness, light-headedness when standing up, tottering, a floating feeling, vertigo, headache, a feeling of heaviness in the head, unsteadiness, tinnitus, passing out, convulsions, motion sickness, eye pain, and so on.
2. Cardiovascular symptoms
Cardiovascular symptoms are the result of insufficient blood flow to the heart. They include palpitations, shortness of breath, sighs, chest pain (often mistaken for angina pectoris), abnormal heart rhythms, tachycardia, and leg swelling (particularly in the evening). Postural tachycardia syndrome (characterized by palpitations as a result of a change in body position) can also occur. These cardiovascular symptoms are not caused by heart trouble, but by problems with the autonomic nervous system that regulates autonomic functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Respiratory symptoms
Poor circulation to the respiratory system leads to the following symptoms: shortness of breath (dyspnea), hyperventilation and hyperventilation syndrome (symptoms including rapid shallow breathing, numbness in the limbs and falling down), chest pain (often mistaken for angina pectoris due to pain in the center of the chest, or squeezing), discomfort in the chest, panting, sighs, and air hunger (claustrophobia, the irrational fear of a confined space).
Panic attacks can also occur.
4. Gastrointestinal symptoms
Gastrointestinal symptoms include a loss of appetite (particularly in the morning), eating less, not wanting to eat breakfast, stomach heaviness, abdominal pain in the morning, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal fullness or bloating (abdominal heaviness), nausea, vomiting, unbalanced diet (associated with food preferences), gastric and/or duodenal ulcers, and having gastroptosis. A feeling of having a lump in the throat (globus sensation) and irritable bowel syndrome can also occur.
5. Chronic pain
Hypotension is associated with chronic pain that is difficult to diagnose and treat. It includes fibromyalgia syndrome, chronic daily headaches (e.g. migraines, and tension-type headaches), eye pain, stiff shoulder, limb pain, chronic low back pain, cold hands and legs, frostbite, atypical facial pain, low back pain, tongue pain, temporomandibular disorders, pains that don’t respond to nerve block, and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is divided into 2 types: causalgia which is characterized by burning pain and sensitivity to touch, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.
Hypotension and orthostatic hypotension are very common in people with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and those with myalgic encephalopathy / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
6. Other symptoms
Other symptoms include eye strain (asthenopia), excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), little or no sweating (a more serious condition than hyperhidrosis), looking pale (paleness), frequent urination at night (more than 3 times per night), male impotent, reduced sex drive in women, fainting during urination, and varicose veins.
Despite these symptoms, a good thing is that people with hypotension look younger for their age.
Hypotension may develop into serious illness.
Blood pressure rises with age because the walls of arteries harden and the cardiac function declines. Cells also age, which leads to metabolic inefficiency. Our body needs enough oxygen and nutrients for metabolism. However, if you have had hypotension since your childhood or early adulthood and left it untreated, a variety of complications can result.
◆ Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS)
FMS is characterized by widespread pain and severe fatigue. People with FMS can even be incapacitated. In Japan, 2 million people are said to be suffering from FMS.
FMS can progress to myalgic encephalopathy / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). ME/CFS is a serious condition characterized by a variety of symptoms which includes pain, severe fatigue and sleep disorders.
Low blood sugar can damage the brain, which leads to memory loss (often temporary), cognitive impairment, confusion, postprandial drowsiness, stagger, dizziness, fatigue, sweating and convulsion.
When you eat food such as rice and sweets, your body brakes down carbohydrates from the foods into glucose and other sugar molecules. Glucose is then absorbed into your bloodstream, which raises the level of blood sugar. A rise in blood sugar signals cells in your pancreas to release insulin. When too much insulin is released into your bloodstream, the blood sugar level drops too low. As a result, hypoglycemia occurs. This phenomenon is named blood sugar spike.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by pancreas. It also helps store extra glucose in your liver and muscles for future use. The decrease of insulin production leads to diabetes.
◆ Reactive hypoglycemia ( blood sugar spike )
Reactive hypoglycemia occurs after meals because your pancreas produces more insulin than needed and the level of blood sugar drops too low.
This type of hypoglycemia is difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for clinical depression or schizophrenia (pseudo-neurosis).
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