Low blood pressure (hypotension) - Treatment 

Treating low blood pressure 

Low blood pressure (hypotension) usually only needs to be treated if it is causing symptoms. This will involve general lifestyle advice and treating any underlying cause of the condition.

If you have naturally low blood pressure and it's not causing any problems, treatment is rarely necessary. 

General advice

The advice outlined below can often help limit  symptoms of some of the most common types of hypotension:

  • Stand up gradually - particularly first thing in the morning. It may also be useful to try other physical movements first to increase your heart rate and the flow of blood around your body. For example, stretching in bed before you get up or crossing and uncrossing your legs if you are seated and about to stand. 
  • Avoid standing for long periods of time - this can help prevent neurally mediated hypotension (low blood pressure caused by miscommunication between heart and the brain).
  • Wear support stockings - sometimes called compression stockings, these are tight-fitting elastic socks or tights. They provide extra pressure to feet, legs, and abdomen, which can help improve circulation and increase blood pressure. However, you should speak to your GP before using support stockings because they are not suitable for everyone.
  • Avoid caffeine at night, and limit your alcohol intake - this can help you to avoid becoming dehydrated, which can also cause low blood pressure.
  • Eat small, frequent meals rather than large ones - this can help prevent postprandial hypotension (low blood pressure after eating). Lying down after eating or sitting still for a while may also help.

Increasing your fluid and salt intake

Dehydration can cause low blood pressure. This can be easily treated by increasing your fluid and salt intake. Ensuring you drink enough fluid will help by increasing the volume of your blood, which will increase your blood pressure.

If you have low blood pressure, you may benefit from having more salt in your diet. Your GP will be able to advise how much additional salt you need and whether you can add salt to your usual food or if you need to take salt tablets. Don't add extra salt to your diet without seeing your GP first.

Changing your medication

If your GP suspects your medication is causing low blood pressure, they may advise using an alternative medication or may alter your dose.

Your blood pressure should be monitored while you're taking medication and changes noted. Tell your GP if you are experiencing side effects from taking medication.

Treating underlying conditions

If your GP suspects your low blood pressure is being caused by an underlying health condition, you may be referred to hospital for further tests and treatment.

For example, if your low blood pressure is related to hormone problems (see causes of low blood pressure for more information), you may be referred to a specialist called an endocrinologist who may prescribe hormone replacement medication.

Medication for low blood pressure

Very few people are prescribed medication for low blood pressure. The symptoms of hypotension can usually be treated by making the above changes to your lifestyle and, in particular, by increasing your fluid and salt intake.

If medication is necessary, it will usually be medicines to expand the volume of your blood or to constrict (narrow) your arteries. By increasing your blood, or decreasing your arteries, your blood pressure will increase because there will be more blood flowing through a smaller space.

Page last reviewed: 18/07/2013

Next review due: 18/07/2015

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