CPR First Aid

What Causes Low Blood Pressure and High Heart Rate?

Find out what causes low blood pressure and high heart rate happening at the same time. Learn how to manage the symptoms for hypotension and tachycardia.

It’s typical for people to experience low blood pressure and high heart rate simultaneously. Various conditions can trigger this, while the cause is sometimes unknown. Dehydration, low blood sugar, and anxiety are typical health conditions causing this phenomenon.

Normally, having low blood pressure and a high pulse is short-lived, and simple lifestyle changes are all that are needed to improve the condition. However, medication or other medical intervention may be necessary for others depending on the underlying condition according to the American Heart Association.

Understanding Blood Pressure

Blood pressure (BP) is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood; this is called systolic pressure. When your heart relaxes between beats, your blood pressure falls, called diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually, the systolic number is written above or before the diastolic number. For example, 120/80 (“120 over 80”) means you have a systolic pressure of 120 and a diastolic pressure of 80.

In many instances, low blood is not a cause for alarm. On the other hand, diseases and treatments are commonly associated with high blood pressure or hypertension.

BP is the force of blood against artery walls, highest when the heart pumps (systolic pressure).

What 100 by 60 Blood Pressure Means

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if someone has a 100 by 60 blood pressure, this is indicative of low blood pressure. This could be a condition by itself, or it can be a symptom of a wide range of other medical conditions. Let’s learn a little more about it. 

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure or hypotension is when the force of your blood against your artery walls is too low. Medical conditions such as dehydration, heart disease, or kidney disease are usually the underlying causes and risk factors. It may also show as one of the side effects of certain medications and antidepressants.

A reading below the normal blood pressure range is indicative of hypotension.

  • For those aged 18 and younger, typically < 90/60 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
  • For adults aged 19 to 64, it is < 95/60 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)

Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

One or more of the following symptoms may show if blood pressure is low.

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Pain in the chest and difficulty in breathing may also occur.

What happens if your blood pressure is too low? This means that the body’s various organs will not be getting the nutrients and oxygen they need. This can lead to shock and if left untreated, even death.

Why Does Blood Pressure Suddenly Drop?

Many factors can contribute to a sudden drop of blood pressure. It could be something as simple as standing up too fast from a chair. In other cases, it could also be a symptom of other conditions like dehydration, heart failure, heatstroke, and many more. 

While blood pressure often fluctuates up and down, there is cause for concern if people are experiencing worrying symptoms often such as fainting, being confused, and having a rapid pulse among others. If a person is experiencing these often, it is best to see a medical professional immediately.

What is Heart Rate

Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. An average heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. If your heart rate is below 60 beats per minute, it’s called bradycardia. What’s a high heart rate? If your heart rate is above 100 beats per minute, this is considered a high heart rate and it’s called tachycardia.

Heart rate measures heartbeats per minute, with bradycardia below 60 and tachycardia above 100.

The Difference Between Heart Rate and Pulse

Healthcare professionals and gov agencies explain that while these terms are often used interchangeably, they are two different things. Your heart rate can be affected by various factors, including exercise, stress, and medications. On the other hand, your pulse is determined by your heart rate and how much blood your heart is pumping. A high heart rate means that a person’s pulse is fast. 

High Heart Rate

Tachycardia is when your heart beats too fast and it causes shortness of breath, fatigue, paleness, and other symptoms. Some factors that can lead the heart to race are as follows.

  • Exercise – the heart needs to pump faster to ensure muscles have enough oxygen so blood vessels may dilate for blood to travel
  • Medications, e.g., epinephrine (used to treat allergies), albuterol (used to treat asthma), and thyroxine (used to treat hypothyroidism)
  • Arrhythmias – abnormal heart rhythms
  • Fever
  • Hypovolemic shock – severe blood or fluid loss
  • Anaemia – low level of red blood cells
  • Pulmonary embolism – blood clot in the lungs

What Causes High Pulse Rate While Resting? 

There are many reasons why a person’s pulse rate rises when at rest. The wide range of reasons include feeling stressed, being pregnant, and as a symptom of other underlying medical conditions. Ingesting products like caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and tobacco can also have this effect.

Causes of Low Blood Pressure Coupled with High Heart Rate

What are the causes of decreased blood pressure and a high heart rate? Let’s look at several situations that may result in low blood pressure and high heart rate but aren’t necessarily due to any specific disease process.

Dehydration

Not drinking enough fluids can cause low blood pressure, especially if you also sweat or have diarrhoea.

Pregnancy

Low blood pressure is common during pregnancy, starting in the first trimester and continuing throughout. The extra blood causes it in the body and the increased demand for fluids.

Blood loss

Significant blood loss, either internally or externally, can cause low blood pressure. To compensate for the decreased oxygen delivery throughout the body, the heart rate increases to push more oxygenated blood to the organs to prevent them from shutting down.

Medications

Some medications can cause low blood pressure, such as diuretics (water pills), ACE inhibitors (used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions), and certain beta-blockers (used to treat heart conditions and migraines).

Endocrine disorders

Certain endocrine disorders, such as Addison’s disease (a disorder of the adrenal glands) and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), can cause low blood pressure.

Septic shock

This serious condition is caused by infection affecting immune responses and damaging organ systems. It causes the blood volume to decrease and blood pressure to drop, which can be life-threatening. Its symptoms include confusion (which is common in older people), paleness, fainting, and others.

Cardiovascular Conditions

Conditions such as atrial fibrillation, heart attack, heart failure, problems with blood flow to the heart muscle, and heart valve issues occur due to varying factors. Cardiac arrest also falls under this category which is a medical emergency caused by the heart stopping abruptly. It results in a sudden drop in blood pressure and is often fatal.

Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels

One example is atherosclerosis which occurs due to the formation of cholesterol plaques, requiring the heart muscles more contractions to pump blood. Irregular heart rhythms such as arrhythmia (which hinders the body from getting enough blood) may also be factors.

Anaphylaxis

This is a severe allergic reaction that can cause low blood pressure, swelling of the airways, and difficulty breathing. It can be life-threatening.

Low blood sugar

This condition, also called hypoglycemia, can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, sweating, and confusion.

Orthostatic hypotension

This condition occurs when blood pressure drops suddenly upon standing up from sitting or lying down. It can cause dizziness or lightheadedness.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

It occurs when the autonomic nervous system does not function properly which causes palpitations, brain fog, and other symptoms.

Neurological Disorders

Such as Parkinson’s disease which causes autonomic dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system which controls the heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.

Is Treatment Needed for Low Blood Pressure and High Heart Rate

Both low BP and high heart rate can cause symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting. If you experience either condition that persists, it’s essential to see your healthcare provider so they can determine the cause and recommend treatment such as a pacemaker implant. If you are a caregiver in Adelaide or someone wanting to obtain first aid knowledge and skills to be more prepared for these scenarios, learn more about CPR First Aid’s life saving first aid courses in Adelaide

Low BP Treatment

In most cases, low blood pressure is not an immediate cause of concern. Often this occurs when an individual has been in the same (flat) position for too long and makes an abrupt movement to an upright position, e.g., from lying or sitting to standing up quickly. Avoid rapid movements, slow down, and allow the body to rest until your blood pressure returns to normal.

If an individual is more prone to low blood pressure symptoms, review the different causes mentioned above and gradually alter lifestyle habits that may trigger this condition. This will include changes in diet and physical activities. Furthermore, always be mindful when taking medicine to lower blood pressure. Once symptoms are experienced more frequently, medication or dosage may need to be adjusted by the doctor.

Racing Heart Treatment

Keep in mind that a high heart rate is not the same as having an irregular heartbeat. Again, the body will have to recover from its stressors. Relaxing the mind and controlling breathing are helpful as an initial response. The body’s goal here is to ensure oxygen-rich blood reaches the muscles and organs to regain balance.

But when a person experiences difficulty breathing, chest pain, or becomes unconscious, seek medical help right away.

In conclusion, although low blood pressure and high heart rate are manageable conditions, it is still important to determine the cause and frequency of symptoms occurring so that if treatment is needed, the doctor can better understand what’s going on and make a proper diagnosis.

"High heart rate differs from an irregular heartbeat; mind relaxation and controlled breathing help recovery."

First Aid Management in Adelaide CBD

CPR First Aid in Adelaide is a leading provider of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and first aid courses. We deliver tailored and nationally accredited Express, Regular, and Full courses with fun and dynamic training to suit everyone’s needs. Reach out to us for more details.

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