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Symptoms of low blood pressure in the elderly

Updated February 21, 2019

Low blood pressure (hypotension) is a common problem for many people. The Mayo Clinic defines low blood pressure as being at or below 90/60. It can cause a whole host of symptoms but can be especially difficult for the elderly because it puts them at an increased risk for falls. It can also take a physical toll on an elderly person who is already in poor health.

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Dizziness is a common sign of low blood pressure in the elderly. Many elderly people often get lightheaded when they stand up from a sitting or laying position. In fact The Mayo Clinic reports that drops in blood pressure after standing primarily occurs in people aged 65 and older. This can be very dangerous especially if the person does not have something to help steady them or someone to catch them if they fall.


Nausea often occurs during episodes of low blood pressure and usually happens in addition to dizziness or hotheadedness. Many times the nausea is caused by the sudden drop in the blood pressure but it can also be brought on by the dizziness. The nausea and vomiting can also cause dehydration which is known to cause low blood pressure. For an elderly person, the nausea can cause additional problems such as decreased appetite and weight loss.


Fainting or syncope is a common problem in ageing people. In fact, a condition known as orthostatic hypotension, which is caused by a blood pressure drop when you stand up, is a problematic occurrence for some elderly. The website for the AGS Foundation reports that fainting is seen twice as often in adults 70 years and older and three to four times as often in adults 80 and older than in any younger adults. Sudden fainting is dangerous for anyone. However, due to the elderly having frail skin and bones it can result in a severe, debilitating injury or death for an elderly person.

Lack of Concentration

When a person's blood pressure is constantly dropping, there is a loss of blood to the brain. This can cause an elderly person to not be able to focus or have difficulty concentrating on something. They may also become increasingly forgetful and can even have difficulty remembering simple daily tasks. Family members may believe that the root cause of this behaviour is dementia when it may be something else entirely.


It is believed that depression can be a symptom of low blood pressure. Studies have shown that many depression sufferers also have problems with low blood pressure. It is suggested by some in the medical community that low blood pressure causes lethargy and a lack of desire to do anything. This in turn can create a feeling of depression. However, research on the exact relationship between low blood pressure and depression is still in its early stages.

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About the Author

Kristie Jernigan

Kristie Jernigan is a health writer with over 17 years of experience as a medical social worker. She has worked mainly with the elderly population and with children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and early childhood from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in health care administration and gerontology from the University of Phoenix.

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