What you need to know about low blood pressure and Parkinson’s

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November 4th is National Check Your Blood Pressure Day. What do you know about blood pressure? Did you know that about one-third of people living with Parkinson’s experience low blood pressure as their Parkinson’s progresses?

What low blood pressure can feel like

You may have low blood pressure if you feel:

  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Brain fog
  • Blurring vision
  • Fatigued and weak

Low blood pressure, referred to as orthostatic hypotension by your health care team, can be experienced when standing from a sitting position, laying down for too long, taking hot baths and in many other situations.

Because many of the symptoms of low blood pressure can appear as a side effect of your medication, or as a symptom of Parkinson’s in general, doctors often screen their patients to confirm whether the cause is indeed low blood pressure related.

When combined with other Parkinson’s symptoms like loss of balance, low blood pressure can increase fall risks and fainting risks. Recognizing low blood pressure signs can help to prevent injuries that could occur as a result. Always talk to your doctor if you suspect you’re experiencing low blood pressure. While waiting to discuss it with them, there are a number of prevention strategies you can begin using as a precaution:

Five strategies to prevent a low blood pressure episode

  1. Do some simple leg exercises before getting up after a meal to help blood move throughout your body.
  2. Never stand in one spot without moving (particularly after exercise) as blood pools in the legs.
  3. Sit down to towel off after a shower or bath and then get up.
  4. Increase your clear fluids until about 4 p.m. (To limit trips to the bathroom during the night.)
  5. Stay out of hot sun, avoid hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms.

For more triggers and prevention strategies, take a look at our Low Blood Pressure and Parkinson’s resource.

Research about Parkinson’s and low blood pressure

There is still much to be understood about the relationship between low blood pressure and Parkinson’s. With low blood pressure occurring so frequently, and being caused by both Parkinson’s or medication prescribed to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s, researchers remain curious about its impact on those living with Parkinson’s.

In 2019, researchers ran a study that observed subjects who experienced significant fatigue – especially in the morning – demonstrated lower averages of blood pressure throughout the day than those who didn’t experience similar fatigue. And while that was observed, when the fatigued subjects were assessed in-office by their doctors, the assessments of blood pressure and fatigue were not found to be any different than the subjects who didn’t experience fatigue. Meaning that being assessed intermittently wasn’t enough to catch the fatigue and its relation to low blood pressure.

If you experience tiredness and fatigue, it could be related to low blood pressure, and it may not be noticeable when assessed in your doctor’s office. That’s why your doctor may recommend you measure your blood pressure multiple times a day and for multiple days in a row to help them better understand your fatigue and its relation to your blood pressure.

How you can better understand low blood pressure

Because low blood pressure is one of the most common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, the Canadian edition of Every Victory Counts® covers it extensively. Download your copy of the Every Victory Counts Manual for more in-depth knowledge about low blood pressure, how it affects people, the lifestyle changes doctors recommend as well as first-hand accounts of Canadians living with Parkinson’s who have implemented those recommendations to improve their blood pressure.