Kelly Anne Spratt, D.O., Director of Women's Cardiovascular Health at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center, answers your questions.


Blood Pressure & Fatigue

Q. Can low blood pressure cause fatigue? I have been taking medication for high blood pressure, and now I am getting a reading of 119/60. Isn't that too low?

A. Some people have high blood pressure for so long that having "normal" blood pressure feels like it is "too low" to them. This may be the case for you, since 119/60 may be a normal blood pressure. Only your doctor can make the determination for sure, since it is relative to what your blood pressure was before you started medication. For instance, if you started at 200/90 and you are now at 119/60, this may be too fast a drop in your pressure. On the other hand, it may be that you simply need to adjust to "normal" blood pressure. Another possibility is that you have changed your diet enough so that you may no longer be hypertensive and may need less medicine.

To answer your question about fatigue, yes, it is possible that a sudden drop in blood pressure, or even the blood pressure itself, may cause fatigue. Has anything else in your life changed? Are you sleeping well?

Whatever you do, do NOT stop your medication until you have talked to your doctor. Treatment of high blood pressure is important in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. If you have concerns about your blood pressure throughout the day, ask for a 24-hour monitor, perhaps even on and off medication, to see the difference. Ask your doctor these questions and tell her/him of your concerns.

Dangerously Low?

Q. I recently had oral surgery. While the nurse was taking my blood pressure, she was concerned that it was too low. Is it dangerous to have low blood pressure, and could it be a sign of ongoing health problems?

A. In general, in a healthy adult there are almost no health consequences to a "low" blood pressure, which often is normal for a young healthy person. We only consider blood pressure too low if you have symptoms of lightheadedness or passing out -- otherwise, lower is better. Your blood pressure most likely reflects great health.


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