January 29, 2024/Heart Health

What To Do if Your Blood Pressure Is Too Low

Low blood pressure got you feeling down? Staying hydrated and wearing compression socks can help

Female drinking large glass of water at home.

If you’re dealing with low blood pressure (hypotension), it’s understandable if you feel forgotten. The condition just doesn’t get talked about much living in the shadows of high blood pressure (hypertension).


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But low blood pressure (BP) can be a concern that deserves attention. It’s also a more common issue than you might think, particularly as people age.

So, how can you raise low blood pressure? Let’s find out from cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD.

How low is too low?

Before we get into actual numbers, let’s look at what blood pressure numbers mean.

Blood pressure measures the force needed to pump blood throughout the vast network of blood vessels crisscrossing your body. That’s a 60,000-mile system of arteries, veins and smaller capillaries.

A blood pressure reading includes two numbers given in a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. (In case you were wondering, that’s a pressure unit equal to the pressure exerted by a column of mercury 1mm high at 0 degrees Celsius.)

These numbers indicate the pressure on blood vessels when your heart beats (systolic blood pressure) and rests (diastolic blood pressure). Systolic BP is always the first or top number.

Blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg is generally regarded as being in a healthy zone. Anything above that is considered high, which is a whole separate (and dangerous) issue we won’t get into here.

But if that first number consistently falls below 90, you may have low blood pressure, says Dr. Laffin. Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is typically defined as anything below 90/60 mmHg.


When to seek help for low BP

Low blood pressure isn’t always a cause for concern … but it could be. A sudden or drastic drop in BP could be a sign of an infection, illness or a reaction to medication, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms like:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
  • Fainting (passing out).
  • Fatigue and sluggishness.
  • Nausea.
  • Headaches.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Rapid, shallow breathing.

“It’s context-dependent,” explains Dr. Laffin. “Many healthy people are walking around with blood pressure around 90 over 60, and they’re fine. The number unto itself is not dangerous. But if you’re symptomatic, that should be evaluated.”

Tips to manage low blood pressure

Consistently low blood pressure can put added stress on your organs (including your heart) and bring a risk of injury-causing falls from dizziness or fainting. Here are four things you can do to nudge your BP a bit higher.

Drink more water

If you’re dehydrated, the loss of fluid in your body lowers your blood supply — and that leads to a drop in blood pressure. (Think of it like water in a hose, where turning the spigot to max flow increases the pressure and force of water coming out.)

The solution to this is relatively easy: Consume enough fluids to stay hydrated. As a starting point per day, it’s recommended that males take in 125 ounces (3.7 liters) of water and females consume 91 ounces (2.7 liters).

“More fluid brings more volume within the vasculature to boost low blood pressure,” explains Dr. Laffin. “It’s that simple.”

Add sodium to your diet

When it comes to adding sodium to your diet, most health advice comes with a no-no-no finger wag. Excess sodium (and salt) can contribute to issues such as heart disease and stroke, after all.

But sodium isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s an essential electrolyte and plays a key role in maintaining your body’s fluid levels. “It pulls fluid into your vasculature,” says Dr. Laffin.


So, if you have low blood pressure, sodium can bump it up.

Wear compression socks

The gentle squeeze offered by compression socks can nudge up low blood pressure by slightly narrowing your blood vessels. “They tend to raise blood pressure about 5 to 10 mmHg,” shares Dr. Laffin.

Review medications

If you take medicine to lower high blood pressure, it’s possible that your numbers could drop too much. Medication for weight loss, heart failure, erectile dysfunction and other conditions also can affect your BP.

“People can be symptomatic from low blood pressure if they’re being overtreated with their medication or if they make really big lifestyle changes and their bodies respond differently to the medication,” clarifies Dr. Laffin.

Talk to your healthcare provider about making medication adjustments if low BP becomes an issue. DO NOT stop taking prescribed medication or change your dosage on your own.

Final thoughts

In the most basic of descriptions, your heart is a pump, says Dr. Laffin. Maintaining proper pressure that’s neither too low nor too high is key to that life-sustaining pump working at an optimal level.

So, if you’re experiencing concerning symptoms because of a low BP, it’s important to find a solution and take action.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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