A grey-haired woman checks her blood pressure at home.

How to increase your blood pressure – Day Lewis

How to increase your blood pressure

Having your blood pressure checked is a good way to keep an eye on your health, especially if you’ve noticed symptoms that may be caused by a problem with your blood pressure. It’s more common to find yourself needing to lower your blood pressure, but some people find they have the opposite problem and their blood pressure is below what’s considered healthy.

If that applies to you, then finding ways to safely raise your blood pressure may help to resolve the issue and alleviate any symptoms you’re experiencing. Always speak to your pharmacist before getting started with any of the methods below to make sure they’re appropriate for your individual health needs and circumstances.

Stay hydrated

According to the NHS, we should generally be drinking around six to eight glasses of fluids every day to stay hydrated. That’s around two litres or three to four pints – and while it’s best to stick to low calorie drinks such as water or sugar-free tea, any hydrating fluids you drink will contribute. If you regularly drink less than this amount, then it may be that you’re dehydrated, which can contribute to low blood pressure as water makes up a proportion of our blood.

It’s worth remembering that you may need additional fluids if you are:

  • In a hot environment
  • Physically active – either in short, intense bursts or over a longer period of time
  • Breastfeeding and/or pregnant
  • Sick or recovering from illness

Eat a healthy diet

It might seem like it’s the same advice you receive no matter what your health’s like, but that’s because it’s so important to eat a healthy diet. Your diet not only fuels you in terms of energy to burn through physical activity, but it also provides you with all the vitamins and minerals you need for your body to carry out vital functions such as blood clotting, digestion and bone-strengthening.

For people with low blood pressure, it can be helpful to eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than three big meals a day. You might also find it more comfortable to stay seated or lie down for a short while after eating.

Speak to your doctor about anaemia

If you usually experience a drop in blood pressure when standing after being seated or lying down – also known as postural hypotension – then one possible cause is anaemia. Anaemia is the medical term for having too little haemoglobin in the blood – the specialised proteins which transport oxygen within red blood cells. Speaking to your doctor about the possibility of anaemia causing your low blood pressure may help you to find a long-term solution to reduce or prevent your symptoms.

One of the biggest causes of anaemia is iron deficiency, but it can also be caused by low levels of vitamin B12 or folic acid. Each of these can be improved by eating a healthy diet or taking supplements – but other factors may be in play if eating healthily doesn’t solve the issue.

Limit alcohol consumption

It’s also recommended that people with low blood pressure should avoid drinking too much alcohol. It may be beneficial to stop drinking altogether if you can – at least until your low blood pressure has been brought up to a healthy level. This is because alcohol is known to lower your blood pressure for up to 12 hours after you drink it, which could have dangerous effects if your blood pressure was already low to start with.

Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure can be easily confused with sensations you have after overindulging in alcohol – for example, lightheadedness, dizziness and feelings of nausea. It may help you to keep an eye on your blood pressure symptoms if you can be sure they aren’t caused by alcohol.

Eat more salt

Although it’s generally recommended to avoid having too much salt in your diet, it’s worth noting that too little salt can be a problem as well. This can come about as a result of a number of conditions, as well as eating very little salt or losing the salt that you eat through diarrhoea or vomiting. Your GP may be able to arrange a blood test to find out if you have a salt deficiency, as well as helping to find and resolve the cause where possible.

As it’s known that eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, it may help to alleviate your symptoms if you add a small amount of salt to your diet. By this we mean occasionally using table salt to season your meal so you can control how much you’re consuming. Steering clear of refined and processed salty foods can help you to avoid overdoing it.

Wear compression socks

Your pharmacist or GP may suggest that you wear compression socks as a way to combat your low blood pressure. Compression hosiery aim to increase the circulation of blood in your body, which in turn increases your blood pressure.

It’s not recommended to wear compression stockings at night, so make sure to take them off before going to sleep. You can then put them back on first thing in the morning and continue to wear them during the day as normal. Your pharmacist or GP will assess your condition regularly to check if they’re working.

Stand up slowly

As mentioned, low blood pressure can sometimes be worse (or only present symptoms) when you stand up suddenly after having been sitting or lying down for a long period of time. If this is something you’ve experienced, then it might help to try getting up more slowly, or in stages. For example, if you’ve been lying down, move to a sitting position, then wait a minute or so to let your body adjust, and then stand up slowly.

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Author: Rachna Chhatralia MRPharmS

Author: Rachna Chhatralia MRPharmS

Superintendent Pharmacist
GPHC number: 2045909

Rachna brings over 25 years of experience to her role as Superintendent. She qualified as a pharmacist at the London School of Pharmacy and has been working for Day Lewis since 2002. Her career is distinguished by a commitment to excellence in patient care, a deep understanding of pharmacy operations and a proactive approach to healthcare management.

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