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Hypotension

Hypotension is abnormally low blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

About Hypotension

Hypotension (HI-po-TEN-shun) is abnormally low blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood.

Blood pressure is measured as systolic (sis-TOL-ik) and diastolic (di-a-STOL-ik) pressures. "Systolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. "Diastolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.

You most often will see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury - the units used to measure blood pressure.)

Normal blood pressure in adults is lower than 120/80 mmHg. Hypotension is blood pressure that's lower than 90/60 mmHg.

Overview

Blood pressure doesn't stay the same all the time. It lowers as you sleep and rises when you wake up. Blood pressure also rises when you're... Read more about Hypotension

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Vasopressin and its analogues for the treatment of refractory hypotension in neonates

Hypotension or low blood pressure occurs frequently in newborn infants after infection or surgery or in very preterm infants. Sometimes, the hypotension does not respond to fluids or other drug such as catecholamines or steroids. In those unresponsive infants, vasopressin may be useful in improving blood pressure and overall survival. We searched the literature for studies that used vasopressin or its analogue terlipressin in the newborn in the first 28 days of life for unresponsive hypotension. We found no ongoing or completed studies. Currently there is no evidence to recommend the use of vasopressin or terlipressin, but we recommend that studies be carried out in the future to study the effectiveness and safety in unresponsive hypotension in newborn infants.

Human albumin for hypotension in haemodialysis patients

Intradialytic hypotension (IDH), which is caused by a decrease in blood volume, is a common complication of haemodialysis treatment. It is characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure with symptoms of nausea, sweating, cramping, or dizziness and causes much discomfort to the patient. IDH is managed by giving fluids to the patient. These can include saline, albumin or other fluids such as gelatins and starches. Because albumin is a relatively rare and expensive blood product, we asked if albumin had an advantage over other fluids to treat IDH. We found one trial comparing albumin to normal saline; no trials were found comparing albumin to other fluids used to treat hypotension. This trial showed no difference between albumin and normal saline in all outcomes except for the amount of additional saline given, which was less in the group treated with albumin. We concluded that normal saline should be the first choice for treating IDH.

Corticosteroids for treating hypotension in preterm infants

It is unclear whether giving steroids to premature newborn babies who have hypotension (low blood pressure) is safe and effective. Low blood pressure is a relatively common problem in premature newborn babies and has been linked with serious short and long term problems including death and neurodisability. Various treatments are used to support the circulation and boost blood pressure. One such treatment is the use of steroid drugs. This review found four small studies that evaluated the effect of steroids on low blood pressure in premature infants. At present, there is insufficient information on which to base recommendations about the value of giving steroids to babies born before term who have low blood pressure.

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Summaries for consumers

Vasopressin and its analogues for the treatment of refractory hypotension in neonates

Hypotension or low blood pressure occurs frequently in newborn infants after infection or surgery or in very preterm infants. Sometimes, the hypotension does not respond to fluids or other drug such as catecholamines or steroids. In those unresponsive infants, vasopressin may be useful in improving blood pressure and overall survival. We searched the literature for studies that used vasopressin or its analogue terlipressin in the newborn in the first 28 days of life for unresponsive hypotension. We found no ongoing or completed studies. Currently there is no evidence to recommend the use of vasopressin or terlipressin, but we recommend that studies be carried out in the future to study the effectiveness and safety in unresponsive hypotension in newborn infants.

Human albumin for hypotension in haemodialysis patients

Intradialytic hypotension (IDH), which is caused by a decrease in blood volume, is a common complication of haemodialysis treatment. It is characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure with symptoms of nausea, sweating, cramping, or dizziness and causes much discomfort to the patient. IDH is managed by giving fluids to the patient. These can include saline, albumin or other fluids such as gelatins and starches. Because albumin is a relatively rare and expensive blood product, we asked if albumin had an advantage over other fluids to treat IDH. We found one trial comparing albumin to normal saline; no trials were found comparing albumin to other fluids used to treat hypotension. This trial showed no difference between albumin and normal saline in all outcomes except for the amount of additional saline given, which was less in the group treated with albumin. We concluded that normal saline should be the first choice for treating IDH.

Corticosteroids for treating hypotension in preterm infants

It is unclear whether giving steroids to premature newborn babies who have hypotension (low blood pressure) is safe and effective. Low blood pressure is a relatively common problem in premature newborn babies and has been linked with serious short and long term problems including death and neurodisability. Various treatments are used to support the circulation and boost blood pressure. One such treatment is the use of steroid drugs. This review found four small studies that evaluated the effect of steroids on low blood pressure in premature infants. At present, there is insufficient information on which to base recommendations about the value of giving steroids to babies born before term who have low blood pressure.

See all (81)

Terms to know

Arteries
A blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to tissues and organs in the body.
Blood Pressure
The force of blood exerted on the inside walls of blood vessels. Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers. For example, a blood pressure result of 120/80 is said as "120 over 80."
Diastolic Pressure
The blood pressure when the heart rests.
Heart
The hollow, muscular organ that maintains the circulation of the blood.
Systolic Pressure
The blood pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries.

More about Hypotension

Photo of an adult

Also called: Arterial hypotension, Hypotensive diseases, Hypopiesis, Low blood pressure

See Also: High Blood Pressure

Other terms to know: See all 5
Arteries, Blood Pressure, Diastolic Pressure

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