Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Low blood pressure that either doesn't cause signs or symptoms, or causes only mild symptoms, such as brief episodes of dizziness when standing, rarely requires treatment. If you have symptoms, the best treatment depends on the underlying cause, and doctors usually try to address the primary health problem — dehydration, heart failure, diabetes or hypothyroidism, for example — rather than the low blood pressure itself. When low blood pressure is caused by medications, treatment usually involves changing the dose of the medication or stopping it entirely.

If it's not clear what's causing low blood pressure or no effective treatment exists, the goal is to raise your blood pressure and reduce signs and symptoms. Depending on your age, health status and the type of low blood pressure you have, you can do this in several ways:

  • Use more salt. Experts usually recommend limiting the amount of salt in your diet because sodium can raise blood pressure, sometimes dramatically. For people with low blood pressure, that can be a good thing. But because excess sodium can lead to heart failure, especially in older adults, it's important to check with your doctor before increasing the salt in your diet.
  • Drink more water. Although nearly everyone can benefit from drinking enough water, this is especially true if you have low blood pressure. Fluids increase blood volume and help prevent dehydration, both of which are important in treating hypotension.
  • Wear compression stockings. The same elastic stockings commonly used to relieve the pain and swelling of varicose veins may help reduce the pooling of blood in your legs.
  • Medications. Several medications, either used alone or together, can be used to treat low blood pressure that occurs when you stand up (orthostatic hypotension). For example, the drug fludrocortisone is often used to treat this form of low blood pressure. This drug helps boost your blood volume, which raises blood pressure. Doctors often use the drug midodrine (Orvaten, Proamatine) to raise standing blood pressure levels in people with chronic orthostatic hypotension. It works by restricting the ability of your blood vessels to expand, which raises blood pressure.
May. 19, 2011