Living with high blood pressure puts your health at risk, increasing your chances of developing many chronic — sometimes fatal — conditions. Unfortunately, the other extreme doesn’t have a great outlook, either. Simon Cowell learned this firsthand when a dizzy spell landed him in the hospital in late 2017.
The America’s Got Talent judge is now working on managing his health condition to prevent future injuries. But what exactly caused him to faint? How dangerous is low blood pressure, really — and what can you do to take better care of yourself if your blood pressure falls below average?
Doctors blamed low blood pressure for the fall
Cowell suffered a dizzy spell and collapsed while at home.
Low blood pressure poses the greatest health risk when it causes lightheadedness, significantly increasing a person’s fall risk. Cowell fell down the stairs at his home after feeling dizzy, PEOPLE reported. After a short hospital stay, he returned home to rest and recover.
Here’s what low blood pressure can look (and feel) like
It’s no surprise that low blood pressure could have caused Cowell’s fall.
According to the American Heart Association, common symptoms of low blood pressure include everything from dizziness to fainting to excessive thirst and blurred vision. Someone with low blood pressure might look pale, have cold, clammy hands, or have a hard time concentrating on everyday tasks. Some people with low blood pressure also experience feelings of depression.
What causes low blood pressure?
Heart problems and even dehydration can decrease blood flow to your brain.
What’s considered normal blood pressure can differ from person to person, says Mayo Clinic. A doctor won’t usually flag low blood pressure as a serious problem unless you start experiencing some of the above symptoms as a result. Anything from heart problems to thyroid conditions to dehydration can cause your pressure to run low. If it drops suddenly, your brain can’t get enough oxygen — you’ll probably faint.
What can happen if you suffer from this condition?
In severe cases, you might suffer heart or even brain damage.
In most cases, low blood pressure isn’t fatal. However, it could lead to serious injury if you fall and hit your head, as Cowell did. That’s not the worst of it, though, says Cleveland Clinic. It’s possible to suffer major damage to your heart and brain if low blood pressure deprives either organ of the oxygen it needs to do its job correctly.
Who’s at risk?
Your level of risk depends on your age, and the medications you take regularly.
Even though the condition can affect people of all ages, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says different age groups experience different types more often. Older adults face higher risk of orthostatic and postprandial hypotension — low blood pressure that occurs after standing up or eating. Children and young adults are more likely to experience a drop in blood pressure after standing for too long.
Certain medications, like those for high blood pressure, can also cause gradual or sudden drops in blood pressure no matter your age.
Are there specific health conditions that cause it?
Some nutritional deficiencies can lead to low blood pressure in some people.
If you have heart problems that make it harder for blood to circulate throughout your body, you’re more likely to experience issues with your blood pressure. You’re also more likely to have this problem if you’re anemic due to vitamin B-12 or folic acid nutritional deficiencies.
How to get low blood pressure under control
How you manage low blood pressure depends on which type you have.
Healthline offers a few simple tips for anyone struggling to control their blood pressure. You should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, for example, and avoid standing for long periods of time if possible. Find healthy ways to manage stress. If you often get dizzy when you stand up too fast — a common form of low blood pressure — make it a point to sit up and/or stand slowly.
It also doesn’t hurt to mind your overall health. Do what you can to exercise regularly, eat right, and get enough sleep.
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