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How Is Hypotension Treated?

Treatment depends on the type of hypotension you have and the severity of your signs and symptoms. The goal of treatment is to bring blood pressure back to normal to relieve signs and symptoms. Another goal is to manage any underlying condition causing the hypotension.

Your response to treatment depends on your age, overall health, and strength. It also depends on how easily you can stop, start, or change medicines.

In a healthy person, low blood pressure without signs or symptoms usually isn't a problem and needs no treatment.

If you have signs or symptoms of hypotension, you should sit or lie down right away. Put your feet above the level of your heart. If your signs or symptoms don't go away quickly, you should seek medical care.

Orthostatic Hypotension

Many treatments are available for orthostatic hypotension. If you have this condition, your doctor may advise making lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water or sports drinks that contain nutrients like sodium and potassium.
  • Drinking little or no alcohol.
  • Standing up slowly.
  • Not crossing your legs while sitting.
  • Slowly increasing the amount of time you sit up if you've been immobile for a long time because of a medical condition. The term "immobile" refers to not being able to move around very much.
  • Eating small, low-carbohydrate meals if you have postprandial hypotension (a form of orthostatic hypotension).

Talk with your doctor about using compression stockings. These stockings apply pressure to your lower legs. The pressure helps move blood throughout your body.

If medicine is causing your low blood pressure, your doctor may change the medicine or adjust the dose you take.

Several medicines are used to treat orthostatic hypotension. These medicines, which raise blood pressure, include fludrocortisone and midodrine.

Neurally Mediated Hypotension

If you have neurally mediated hypotension (NMH), you may need to make lifestyle changes. These may include:

  • Avoiding situations that trigger symptoms, such as standing for long periods. Unpleasant, upsetting, or scary situations also can trigger symptoms.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water or sports drinks that contain nutrients like sodium and potassium.
  • Increasing your salt intake (as your doctor advises).
  • Learning to recognize symptoms that occur before fainting and taking action to raise your blood pressure. For example, sitting down and putting your head between your knees or lying down can help raise blood pressure.

If medicine is causing your hypotension, your doctor may change the medicine or adjust the dose you take. He or she also may prescribe medicine to treat NMH.

Children who have NHM often outgrow it.

Severe Hypotension Linked to Shock

Shock is a life-threatening emergency. People who have shock need prompt treatment from medical personnel. If a person has signs or symptoms of shock, call 9–1–1 right away.

The goals of treating shock are to:

  • Restore blood flow to the organs as quickly as possible to prevent organ damage
  • Find and reverse the cause of shock

Blood or special fluids are put into the bloodstream to restore blood flow to the organs. Medicines can help raise blood pressure or make the heartbeat stronger. Depending on the cause of the shock, other treatments—such as antibiotics or surgery—may be needed.

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Hypotension Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Hypotension, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


 
November 01, 2010 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.