Low Blood Pressure
Many people with mid and late-stage Parkinson’s experience low blood pressure, known as hypotension. This can be a symptom of Parkinson’s, it can be a side effect of the medications used to treat Parkinson’s, or it may be connected to another health condition.
Low blood pressure does not cause major problems. However, if it causes you to faint or black out, you could fall and suffer an injury. In Parkinson’s the most common blood pressure difficulty is postural hypotension.
Common symptoms of low blood pressure
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed
- Blurred vision
- Feeling weak
- Feeling muddled or confused
Managing your blood pressure
If you are concerned about your blood pressure, ask your GP, practice nurse or specialist to check it for you. Your GP will probably check your blood pressure while you are sitting and again once you are standing.
Postural hypotension (also known as orthostatic hypotension) is a sharp drop in blood pressure that happens when a person gets up from bed or from a chair, causing dizziness or fainting. The condition can put people with Parkinson’s at risk of losing balance, falling, and being injured.
Both Parkinson’s itself, and the medications that are used to treat it, can contribute to postural hypotension. People with Parkinson’s may also be on other medications that affect blood pressure. Additional causes can also include diuretics, cardiac disease, dehydration, fever, and anaemia.
Managing postural hypotension
Ask your doctor whether there are any medications that will help you manage your low blood pressure and its effects.
Be aware that medications that raise low blood pressure to normal levels when a person is standing may cause high blood pressure when a person is lying down.
Ask your GP to review any existing medications for high blood pressure which you may be taking (anti-hypertensives) as these may be contributing to your low blood pressure.
Below are tips for avoiding postural hypotension:
- Avoid standing up too quickly, especially when getting up out of bed. Sitting on the edge of the bed for a few moments first will help
- Drink lots of water and other fluids. Aim for 6 – 8 glasses or 2 litres per day
- Exercise gently and regularly
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Reduce alcohol intake
- If you expect to be standing for a long period of time drink 2 glasses of water to temporarily increase blood volume and therefore blood pressure
- Support stockings help as they encourage circulation
- Raise the head of the bed by 10cm
- Drink two cups of cold water 30 minutes before getting up
- Do some simple leg exercises before getting up to help blood move throughout your body
- If you feel dizzy or faint, sit (preferably with your legs raised or lie down, until the feeling passes
- Consult with your doctor or dietician about increasing your salt intake
Support for you
- Call the Fight Parkinson’s Information Line on 1800 644 189
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Speak to your doctor, nurse or specialist