I had an interesting experience a few days ago. I woke up about 2 hours or so before going to work. I felt really hazy and my body seems to be heavier. I continued on with my pre-work rituals and I felt that something’s really wrong. I felt nauseous so I immediately checked my blood pressure.
To my surprise, it was just 83/54. That was too low. I experienced low blood pressure before and it’s the same sensation. However, when I checked my heart rate it was racing. My heart was beating 147 beats per minute and that’s almost equal to doing relatively mid to high impact exercises and all I did was take a bath.
I began to worry. I thought I was having a heart attack since I started to have difficulty in breathing and my chest was heavy. I really considered going to the hospital right away. But I gave it a few more moments as I felt that it was improving every passing minute. I checked my blood pressure again and it shot up to 132/90 and my heart rate went down to 80 or so.
But I wanted to make sure so I checked again. Before I did, I felt bad again. My blood pressure went down to 90/60 and my heart rate shot up to 131. It was erratic. I rested for a few minutes and went to work after I felt better.
In the office, I became more stable and my blood pressure went back to normal 110/70 and my heart rate was at 70-80. I asked the nurse and she asked me what I did when I woke up. What I actually did was I immediately got up and went down to open the water pipes so we could use water. Then I ran up the stairs. Apparently, since I just woke up, my blood pressure was still low and my heart had to work extra hard to pump blood. Hence, the high heart rate. If it did not go back to normal, it could have been dangerous.
I remembered the last time I had hypotension. It was 2 years ago when our company doctor (in my previous company) gave me several anti-hypertensive medicines consecutively because my blood pressure remained at 150/100 even after taking 2 of them. The medicine, Catapres, should lower my blood pressure but after an hour and taking 3 of them, my blood pressure was still very high. It worked afterwards however, the next day, my blood pressure was 80/50 and it was like that even after traveling and doing physical work.
Our family doctor told me to lie down and keep my legs up to increase the blood pressure and so it did. If it went down further or if it stayed low for a more prolonged period of time, it could have been extremely dangerous and he said that I may be put into a coma because of hypotension. So always be vigilant in checking your blood pressure. Blood pressure that is very high or too low is equally dangerous and for some people, they do not feel any symptom at all.
Dr. Ramon A. Reyes M.D., Internal Medicine – Cardiologist
St. Luke’s Medical Center, Philippines