Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Pregnant woman receiving blood pressure check.

Pregnant woman receiving blood pressure check.
beginning of content

Low blood pressure (hypotension)

3-minute read

As blood is pumped by the heart around the body, the pressure with which it pushes against the walls of blood vessels changes.

When the heart is squeezing blood into the arteries, the pressure is high. When the heart is relaxed, the pressure is lower.

Your blood pressure is a measurement taken of the highest reading and the lowest reading. It is given as two figures - highest over lowest. Blood pressure is measured in ‘mmHg’, which refers to millimetres of mercury.

What is low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure is also known as hypotension.

Most doctors would say that you have low blood pressure if it is below 90/60 mm/Hg. Your doctor will refer to this as ‘90 over 60’.

Is low blood pressure a problem?

For some people, low blood pressure is a sign of good health. These are generally people who are very fit and who have a slow pulse. For other people, low blood pressure is a problem.

It is better to have low blood pressure than high blood pressure.

Often, people with low blood pressure can be expected to lead longer lives.

However, people who experience continuing symptoms of low blood pressure should see a doctor. Sudden, severe low blood pressure (shock) can be associated with serious medical conditions.

What are the signs and symptoms of low blood pressure?

The symptoms of low blood pressure may include:

These symptoms can occur when doing nothing. They are more likely to occur when changing position, such as standing up or when straining on the toilet.

However, often there are no symptoms and low blood pressure is often only identified as a result of a routine medical examination or during the course of an investigation for some other condition or underling illness.

Low blood pressure may be more serious in elderly people who may have an underlying illness or who may be at risk of a fall.

Check your symptoms with healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

What causes low blood pressure?

Apart from being very fit, people can have low blood pressure if they:

  • are overheated, either from the weather, from hot baths or showers, or from wearing too many clothes
  • have too little blood circulating, either from donating blood, or from bleeding heavily, or from being dehydrated
  • are pregnant
  • are taking one of many different types of medicines
  • have a lot of drugs or alcohol in the system
  • are having an allergic reaction
  • are seriously ill with an infection
  • have certain heart conditions
  • have a disorder of the nervous system or glandular (endocrine) system
  • are in severe pain

There is also a particular type of low blood pressure called ‘postural hypotension’ or ‘orthostatic hypotension’. In this condition, a person’s blood pressure is normal when they are sitting or lying down, but it drops suddenly when they stand, making them feel dizzy or lightheaded. This can also occur when standing too long without moving.

Postural hypotension is fairly common, more so in older people. It can be caused by one of the situations or conditions listed above. If it happens often, or if it causes problems, you should see your doctor about it.

When should I see a doctor?

If you think you might have symptoms of low blood pressure listed above, it’s best to see your doctor.

Treating low blood pressure

If there is an underlying cause for your low blood pressure, and it is giving you problems, you may need treatment for that underlying cause. But if it is causing you no problems, then treatment won’t be needed.

Your doctor may advise you to take precautions to prevent episodes of low blood pressure, such as avoiding dehydration, hot showers, or standing up too quickly.

Last reviewed: October 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Hypotension (low blood pressure) information video | myVMC

Hypotension or low blood pressure is less common than hypertension or high blood pressure. It cuases symptoms like dizziness and lightheadedness.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Tryptase - Lab Tests Online AU

When you have symptoms such as flushing, nausea, throat swelling or low blood pressure that may be due to a life-threatening allergic reaction; when your doctor suspects that you have mastocytosis or mast cell activation; when you are considering insect venom immunotherapy

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Fainting (temporary unconsciousness) information video | myVMC

Fainting, passing out or falling down unconscious may be caused by low blood pressure or sugar. There are many causes of fainting or reasons for fainting.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

High blood pressure (hypertension) information video | myVMC

High blood pressure or hypertension can be managed through regular exercise, healthy eating with low sodium foods (low salt diet) and weight loss.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

High blood pressure and salt

If you have high blood pressure, lowering your salt intake may reduce your blood pressure.

Read more on Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute website

Blood Pressure Calculator | myVMC

Find out your blood pressure (BP) risk category by entering your age, sex and most recent blood pressure measurement into the calculator. Based on the National Heart Foundations Guide to Management of Hypertension, the calculator assigns your BP measurement to one of seven categories. You find out whether your blood pressure is normal, high or low, and how often you should have your blood pressure checked by your doctor.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Blood Pressure | myVMC

Blood pressure (BP) refers to the pressure created in the arteries by blood as the heart contracts and relaxes. Your local GP is able to measure and record your BP for you, but sometimesyour GP may ask you to record BP measurements from home to complement those taken in the clinic.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

RANZCOG WEBSITE - Pre-eclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, very high blood pressure (severe hypertension)can cause complications for both you and your baby, including:Poor growth of your baby due to low nutrition and oxygensupply from the placentaPrematurity if early delivery (before 37 weeks) is required toprotect the health of you or your babyPlacental abruption the placenta may prematurely separatefrom the wall of the uterus (womb), leading to bleeding and theneed for an emergency birth in some casesPre-eclampsia a condition involving high blood pressure andabnormal function in one or more organs during pregnancy

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood against the inner walls of your arteries as it is pumped around the body by your heart.

Read more on WA Health website

Complications of diabetes | Monitoring type 1 | NSW

The risk of Type 1 diabetes-related complications is reduced when blood glucose levels, blood pressure & blood fats are kept as close to normal as possible.

Read more on Diabetes NSW website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo