For some people, low blood pressure (hypotension) is the norm. There are a few things that may help raise your blood pressure quickly.
A sudden drop in blood pressure can make you feel light-headed, dizzy, or faint. In some cases, it can signal a health problem or a medical emergency. If it's a common occurrence, you may need to take steps to help prevent these episodes.
This article discusses how to increase blood pressure, when to see a healthcare provider, and when low blood pressure requires emergency care.
12 Ways to Increase Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure doesn't necessarily require treatment. However, there are some home remedies and lifestyle tweaks if your blood pressure is low.
Blood pressure that drops when you stand from a sitting or lying down position is called postural or orthostatic hypotension. What may help at the moment include:
- Performing a counter-maneuver: Making a fist, crossing your legs, or clenching your buttocks may improve blood flow and raise blood pressure.
- Having a cup of coffee: Caffeinated coffee can cause a rapid rise in blood pressure. The effect is generally quick and levels off within a few hours.
- Waiting it out: When you feel light-headed or dizzy, sit down and wait a few minutes. Then, get up slowly, bracing yourself if necessary.
Doing the following can help cut down on low blood pressure episodes:
- Drinking water before meals: Try drinking 12 to 18 ounces of water about 15 minutes before eating to help prevent a blood pressure drop.
- Hydrating throughout the day: Dehydration can sometimes lead to a drop in blood pressure. Aim for six to eight glasses of water or low-calorie drinks daily unless your healthcare provider advises limiting fluids.
- Eating smaller meals: Smaller meals are less likely to cause a drop in blood pressure. You can switch from three meals daily to six or seven smaller ones.
- Resting after eating: Your blood pressure may hit its lowest point a half hour to an hour after a meal. Sit or lie down during this time to avoid light-headedness. Get up slowly and brace yourself if you feel dizzy.
- Getting physical: Avoid standing or sitting in one position for too long. Lack of exercise can worsen symptoms of low blood pressure.
- Wearing compression stockings: Compression stockings may increase blood flow and reduce symptoms.
- Raising the head of your bed: If you tend to get dizzy when you wake up in the morning, try raising the head of the bed or using a wedge pillow while you sleep.
Most people won't need medication to increase blood pressure. A few lifestyle adjustments and treating any underlying cause are usually sufficient. Some things a healthcare provider may do include:
- Review current medications: Certain medications, such as opioids (narcotics) and some antidepressants, can lower blood pressure. Ask your provider if you need adjustments or alternatives.
- Prescribe medicines: Drugs that can help treat low blood pressure include Florinef (fludrocortisone), which makes the kidneys retain water and boosts blood volume. Miododrine works by tightening blood vessels.
Low blood pressure doesn't always cause symptoms. But when blood pressure drops suddenly, it can be somewhat disturbing, leading to:
- Light-headedness, dizziness, fainting
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Nausea, vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Weakness, fatigue, lethargy
- Trouble concentrating
What Foods Increase Blood Pressure?
Rapidly digested carbohydrates can lead to a fall in blood pressure. These include foods made with highly refined flour, such as white bread. Also, white rice, potatoes, and sugary drinks. Try to replace these with slowly digested foods that may help keep your blood pressure up after eating. These include:
- Whole grains
- Healthy oils
Deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folate can cause anemia, leading to low blood pressure. Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Fish, meat, poultry
- Dairy products
- Fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeasts
Foods that contain folate are:
- Spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts
- Liver, meat, poultry
- Fruits and fruit juices
- Nuts, beans, peas
- Dairy products
You can also try adding a little more salt to your diet. But dietary salt can affect other health conditions, so you might want to check with your provider to ensure this is safe for you.
What Is a Dangerously Low Blood Pressure?
There's no specific number at which daily blood pressure readings are too low. But unusually low blood pressure can prevent oxygen from getting to vital organs.
This can be due to serious problems such as blood loss or a heart condition. Low blood pressure can lead to shock, a life-threatening emergency.
Signs of Shock
Shock is always a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Cold, sweaty skin
- Rapid breathing
- Weak or rapid pulse
- Skin turning blue
- Loss of consciousness
Monitoring Blood Pressure At Home
An automatic cuff-style bicep monitor is recommended for at-home monitoring. Make sure it has been validated and is the correct cuff size. A few tips to keep in mind include:
- Take your blood pressure at the same time daily.
- Avoid smoking, caffeine, and exercise for 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure. Sit calmly for five minutes before starting.
- Sit with your back straight, feet flat on the floor, and legs uncrossed.
- Support your arm on a flat surface. The upper arm should be at heart level.
- Place the bottom of the cuff just above the bend of the elbow. Don't put the cuff over sleeves.
One reading represents your blood pressure at that moment in time. Keep a record of your daily readings to have a better picture of your normal blood pressure. Let your provider know if you have multiple readings that are not within the normal range.
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
The top (systolic) number measures how much pressure blood exerts against artery walls when the heart beats. The bottome (diastolic) number is how much pressure blood exerts against artery walls between beats. Blood pressure is considered low if it's less than 90/60 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).
Ranges for adults are:
- Normal: Less than 120 and less than 80
- Elevated: 120–129 and less than 80
- High, stage 1: 130–139 or 80–89
- High, stage 2: 140 or higher or 90 or higher
- Hypertensive crisis: higher than 180 and/or higher than 120
A quick drop in blood pressure can cause light-headedness, dizziness, and fainting. You can do a few things to bring your blood pressure back up quickly. And you can take steps to help prevent symptoms.
Low blood pressure doesn't always require medical treatment. However, you may need treatment for any underlying conditions contributing to low blood pressure. In some cases, low blood pressure indicates a serious and even life-threatening problem, such as heart disease or blood loss.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does blood pressure suddenly drop?
Blood pressure can drop for several reasons, such as dehydration, blood loss, medications, heart problems, and other health conditions. You can have a sudden drop in blood pressure just from standing up too quickly or eating a big meal.
Does low blood pressure cause fatigue?
Yes, low blood pressure can make you feel tired or fatigued. Fatigue can also be a symptom of many other conditions, such as anemia, so it's worth getting it checked out.
What increases diastolic blood pressure?
Eat a heart-healthy diet and make sure you're adequately hydrated every day. Consult your healthcare provider or cardiologist (heart specialist) if you're concerned about consistently low diastolic blood pressure.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Low blood pressure.
Geleijnse JM. Habitual coffee consumption and blood pressure: An epidemiological perspective. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(5):963-970. doi:10.2147/VHRM.S3055
NYU Langone Health. Lifestyle changes for autonomic disorders.
Harvard Health Publishing. Eating can cause low blood pressure.
American Heart Association. Low blood pressure: When blood pressure is too low.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Postural hypotension: What it is & how to manage it.
Figueroa JJ, Basford JR, Low PA. Preventing and treating orthostatic hypotension: As easy as A, B, C. CCJM. 2010;77(5):298-306. doi:10.3949/ccjm.77a.09118
National Health Service U.K. Low blood pressure (hypotension).
Saljoughian M. Hypotension: A clinical care review. US Pharm. 2014;39(2):2-4.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Folate.
Mount Sinai. Shock.
American Heart Association. Monitoring your blood pressure at home.
American Heart Association. Understanding blood pressure readings.
Thanks for your feedback!
What is your feedback?