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Elderly people are prone to orthostatic hypotension – temporary low blood pressure and dizziness when they rise suddenly from a reclining or sitting position. Because the ageing sympathetic nervous system does not respond as quickly as it once did to postural changes, blood pools briefly in the lower limbs, reducing blood pressure and consequently blood delivery to the brain. Fainting may occur accompanied by paleness, a weak pulse, and dilated pupils. Making postural changes slowly to give the nervous system time to adjust usually prevents this problem. People taking hypotensive medication may also experience problems.
Chronic hypotension may hint at poor nutrition, because the poorly nourished are often anaemic and have inadequate levels of blood proteins. Because blood viscosity is low, blood pressure is also lower than normal. The blood vessel walls of a person with hypotension are usually very relaxed and possibly flabby or stretched. Few nutrients can reach body tissues from this condition. A light-headedness occurs, the body aches and restless sleep are normal patterns but for a correct assessment use a blood pressure gauge. Other symptoms include fatigue, lack of endurance, sensitivity to heat and cold, development of a rapid pulse on exertion, and little interest in sex. The individual requires more sleep than normal people. Chronic hypotension may warn of Addison’s disease (inadequate adrenal cortex function), hypothyroidism, hypoglycaemia, anaemia, or severe tissue wasting.
Acute hypotension is one of the most important signs of circulatory shock and a threat to patients undergoing surgery and those in intensive care units. Can result from severe haemorrhage, burns, gastroenteritis, or dehydration.
Too little Sodium has been purported to cause low blood pressure. Symptoms of Sodium deficiency include leg cramps at night, apathy, low energy, constipation, aching joints and muscles, dizziness and vomiting. Excessive amounts of salt may be excreted because of an undersupply of Vitamin B5. Low blood pressure can occur with a drop in Iron and Magnesium levels in the body, combined with stress. Mild deficiencies of calories, protein, or Vitamins C and B complex (especially B5) have produced low blood pressure.
Adrenal exhaustion is commonly associated with hypotension.
There are 2 parts to the adrenal glands – the cortex and the medulla. The adrenal cortex helps to maintain salt and water balance in the body. The medulla of the adrenal gland produces the hormone epinephrine, also called adrenaline, when the body is under stress. The functioning ability of the adrenal glands is most often impaired due to excessive use of cortisone & steroid treatment for disorders such as arthritis, eczema and asthma. Long term use of cortisone drugs causes the adrenal gland to shrink in size. Adrenal cortical failure is also caused by pituitary disease and tuberculosis. In conditions of stress, they can shrink and become smaller or when they are overworked, they can become 4 times larger. The adrenals can become damaged from continuous stress, which goes beyond their ability to recover from, before the next stressful period comes along.
People with adrenal insufficiency are the type who usually lead fairly stressful lives. If they also worry a lot, are fatigued or if they do not eat well and have low nutritional levels, these poor glands will not be able to cope. The profile of a person with under active adrenals includes a person who is meticulous in their work. They tend to be perfectionists who often drive themselves to exhaustion, since they are unable to relax easily. Sluggishness and a lack of concentration can occur just before lunch when their blood sugar level is low. Severe personality and emotional changes can occur, but in most cases these are reversible. The skin on these people may be thickened and their nails may be brittle. Their blood pressure is usually low or subnormal – 105/60 or less. As well as this, these people can be the ones who get swollen ankles, which are worse in the afternoon and at night, that then return to normal after a good nights sleep. Other symptoms found in 75% of people with adrenal insufficiency include fatigue, nervousness and irritability, feelings of depression, muscle weakness, light headedness and headaches, cravings for salt, PMT, allergies, sparse body hair, poor memory, confused states, feelings of frustration, fears and an intolerance to alcohol.