A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

How low can your blood pressure go?

gauge showing low blood pressure

Blood pressure less than 90/60 is considered low. You don’t need to be treated for low blood pressure unless you have symptoms.

You’ve probably heard a lot about high blood pressure and the serious health problems it can cause.

What about low pressure? Can it cause problems, too?

Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure usually is not a cause for concern, said Dr. Jennifer Strong, a Marshfield Clinic family medicine physician.

Low blood pressure sometimes can be harmful, but life-threatening problems are rare.

Not a problem unless it causes symptoms

Textbooks define low blood pressure as less than 90/60, but having low blood pressure isn’t always a problem. Some young, healthy people naturally have low blood pressure and don’t have any symptoms.

“Low blood pressure with no symptoms isn’t a medical problem and doesn’t cause any short-term or long-term problems,” Strong said.

Other people get dizzy, lightheaded or faint when their blood pressure drops. Get medical help if you experience these symptoms for the first time or have them frequently. Certain medications, medical conditions or even dehydration can cause low blood pressure. Sitting or standing up too quickly also can make blood pressure drop.

Staying hydrated and getting up slowly may be enough to manage blood pressure and occasional symptoms. If you continue to have symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist to determine if you need medication to raise your blood pressure.

When low blood pressure gets serious

Severe low blood pressure can cause a rapid heart rate, rapid shallow breathing and even organ failure if your organs aren’t getting enough blood. Extremely low blood pressure may be a symptom of septic shock, a life-threatening condition caused by severe infection.

Strong reminds us, “slightly low blood pressure with no symptoms or occasional lightheadedness doesn’t mean you’re in for major problems down the road.”

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