Symptoms of low blood pressure 

If your blood pressure is naturally low, it's unlikely it will cause you any symptoms or require treatment.

However, low blood pressure can sometimes mean there's not enough blood flowing to your brain and other vital organs, which can lead to symptoms such as:

  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • unsteadiness, or feeling of loss of balance
  • fainting 
  • blurred vision
  • a rapid, or irregular heartbeat (palpitations) 
  • confusion
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • general weakness

If you experience symptoms of low pressure after changing positions, such as standing up, it is known as postural, or orthostatic, hypotension.

Symptoms shouldn't last longer than a few seconds as your blood pressure will adjust to your new position. This type of low blood pressure tends to affect people more as they get older, when it can lead to more frequent falls. Similar symptoms may also occur after exercise.

If you experience symptoms after eating, it's known as postprandial hypotension and occurs more often in older people, particularly in those who have high blood pressure or conditions such as Parkinson's disease and diabetes

After a meal, your intestines need a large amount of blood for digestion. If your heart rate does not increase enough to maintain blood pressure, your blood pressure will fall, causing symptoms.

Some people experience symptoms after standing up for long periods of time. This is sometimes known as neurally mediated hypotension and most often affects children and young adults.

Read more about causes of low blood pressure.

What to do if you have symptoms

If you think you may be experiencing an episode of low blood pressure you should:

  • stop what you're doing
  • sit or lie down
  • drink some water

The symptoms will usually pass after a few seconds or minutes.

When to see your GP

You should see your GP if you have frequent symptoms of low blood pressure. Your GP can measure your blood pressure and help identify any underlying causes of the problem.

Read more about diagnosing low blood pressure.

Page last reviewed: 18/07/2013

Next review due: 18/07/2015