High blood pressure is one of the biggest health issues today. In the United States, about one-third of all adults suffer from this health condition. Eating healthy and exercising are some ways to keep our BP in check. However, it’s also important to understand how our bodies control blood pressure. One of the most critical systems is the renin angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS). People are less familiar with this system than others but it’s one we should all know about in order to maintain good health. Keeping blood pressure in check can help to prevent heart attacks, stroke, and fainting.
You’ve probably seen medications advertised on the web and TV for lowering blood pressure. While these meds can be helpful our bodies also have the RAAS system for regulating blood pressure. The interesting thing is the function of this system is to prevent low blood pressure instead of high blood pressure. This is also important since it makes sure our body is getting enough blood and nutrients to function properly. Low blood pressure can also be dangerous and cause various symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and even fainting. It’s important to know the basics of RAAS including what it is, how it works, and what can go wrong. Read on!
Low Blood Pressure: A Bad Thing?
High blood pressure has become a serious problem in today’s world. It’s caused by several factors like the high consumption of fast food and junk food, and lack of exercise. The main function of RAAS is to control blood pressure by increasing low blood pressure. How serious is the problem?
Low blood pressure doesn’t cause any problems for most people. Other people can have minor problems dizziness. In fact, if your blood pressure gets super-low it can become very dangerous and even deadly.
“Low” blood pressure is reading under 90 millimeters of mercury (systolic) or 60 mm (diastolic). It might seem that lower-than-average blood pressure is always a good thing. You won’t be dealing with things like a racing heart and headaches.
Well, low blood pressure can also cause various symptoms like:
- Blurred vision
- Lack of focus
The problem is when people experience major hypotension it can cause more serious conditions. You might get pale skin, shallow breathing, and weak pulse. These are signs that your blood pressure has dropped more than a little and it’s time to take action.
The RAAS system is built to regulate blood pressure and help control it when necessary. On the other hand, if your blood pressure drops significantly then you should see your doctor immediately. He/She can help by prescribing you meds that can boost your blood pressure and start feeling better.
If hypotension is a constant problem then make sure to keep track of your symptoms. Report them to your physician so he/she can figure out what’s wrong and the best steps to take next.
Another important step to take is to get a blood pressure reading from time to time. If either or both of the numbers are very low then it’s time to get some professional help.
Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System
What exactly does the RAAS system do? It’s important to prevent high blood pressure or “hypertension” by minimizing salt/sugar intake, exercising regularly, etc. Several prescription meds are on the market to help with high blood pressure if it becomes a problem. Meanwhile, there’s also something called “hypotension” or low blood pressure.
What’s the role of the RAAS system in terms of blood pressure? This big system helps to control blood pressure in the kidneys and also throughout the body. The RAAS can also get help from a smaller system when it needs more juice to get higher blood pressure.
What’s the “renin” in renin angiotensin aldosterone? Low blood pressure involves containers found in our blood vessels known as “baroreceptors.” Some cells from the kidneys also get involved in the process.
So, if the blood vessels and/or kidney cells pick up low pressure it causes the kidneys to release the enzyme known as renin. The main fact to know about renin is it helps to fix the problem of low blood pressure.
Let’s move on to the “angiotensin” in RAAS’ name. Another important job of the RAAS is a lung enzyme changes a protein in the liver into a hormone known as “angiotensin II.”
This is a complex system that involves different things like enzymes, hormones, and organs. The bottom line is the RAAS system helps to boost your blood pressure when it gets too low.
Here’s a way to visualize how the RAAS system works. Let’s say you connect a garden hose to a faucet then turn on the faucet. If you have low blood pressure then there’s less blood in the blood vessels. This can affect its ability to filter the body’s blood. It’s a problem and in extreme cases can become very dangerous.
How to Detect Low Blood Pressure?
The RAAS system can help to prevent ultra-low blood pressure. There are also times during the day when our blood pressure is naturally lower. That’s the case after waking up in the morning when we’ve been unconscious for several hours. Here are some ways to learn if your blood pressure is overly low:
The electrocardiogram is an easy test with a long name. Some patches with electrodes are attached to your skin to pick up the heart’s electrical signals. This is an excellent way to figure out what’s causing the low blood pressure, which can include the heart muscle.
2. Stress test
This test makes your heart work harder to find out if something isn’t working right. You have to do exercise like walking on a treadmill or take medication. Different readings are taken during the stress test including blood pressure.
3. Blood test
This type of test can pick up many issues that might be causing health problems. A big one related to blood pressure is blood sugar level. If your blood has low levels of sugar then this can cause your blood pressure to drop sharply.
4. Echo Test
An echocardiogram is another basic test that does an ultrasound of the chest. A device outside the body records the readings from the Echo test. This is another effective way to diagnose if you’re suffering from low blood pressure.
You can also take some basic steps to boost your blood pressure if it dips. You can add a little more salt to your diet. Drinking more water can help prevent hydration and hypotension. You can also wear special stockings that can help to reduce pain and swelling in veins. Finally, your doctor might prescribe medications to expand blood vessels as a way to help your body’s renin angiotensin aldosterone system.