Have trouble understanding the connections between high blood pressure and low pulse? Read on to analyse the various aspects linked to BP and pulse rate variations.
- High blood pressure with a low pulse is a condition where the pulse rate falls below 60 BPM and BP rises above 180mm Hg.
- The combination can or cannot be a signal for an underlying disease.
- Heart rate can be measured using ancient methods or a pulse oximeter, whereas blood pressure can be measured using a BP machine.
- This condition can or cannot accompany symptoms along with it as a reflection of a medical emergency.
High blood pressure is never easy to manage as it comes with a lot of problems on the way. Think of headaches, heart problems or pulse; increased blood pressure welcomes it all together.
It is not uncommon to see this condition, but certain medications and conditions can increase the chances of severity linked to HBP and low pulse.
If you are worried as to why you have a low pulse accompanied by high blood pressure, give this article a good read.
What Is A Pulse Rate?
A pulse rate is the recorded heart rate or the heartbeat per minute. The arteries are known to expand and contract as the heart flushes blood through them. This rhythmic throbbing creates a pulse.
The typical range of pulse is 60 to 100 BPM or beats a minute. The condition is called tachycardia if one has a resting heart rate greater than 100. In case the heart rate is below 60, one has bradycardia.
Bradycardia is the condition of a low pulse rate and can indicate many underlying problems.
What Are The Factors That Lead To High Blood Pressure With Low Pulse Rate?
The connection between blood pressure and pulse rate might seem odd, and to understand why precisely these influence each other, it is necessary to note the relationship between them.
In simple words, a pulse can be defined as an electrical system why the blood pressure is the plumbing system. The pulses control the electrical impulses which travel through the heart. These electrical systems then stimulate the plumbing system and propel the heart to let the blood flow.
This mechanism can lead to the combination of high blood pressure and low pulse due to multiple reasons, some of which include the following:
Thickened heart tissue
One has a long history of high blood pressure; the heart tissues generally tend to remodel themselves. In a common case of this remodelling of the heart, the thickening of the tissues takes place as a coping mechanism to let the heart beat harder.
For these thickened tissues, it is hard to conduct electrical impulses, following which the pulse rate slows down due to the delay in transmission.
Some of the medications that are prescribed for high blood pressure, especially beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, can lead to a low pulse rate.
This is because these medications decrease the pulse rate, which also leads to reducing the workload on the heart.
In case of a brain injury or internal bleeding around the brain, the combined effect of high blood pressure and low pulse can be observed. Both injury and bleeding increase the pressure on the human brain, which is also known as the cushing reflex.
The symptoms of this reflex include irregular or slow breathing, decreased heart rate, and HBP.
Factors Leading To High Blood Pressure And Low Pulse
The human body is a complex mechanism that makes adjustments to stay in balance. When the blood pressure rises, a reflex called the baroreceptor reflex is triggered, slowing down the heart rate.
Therefore sometimes, this condition can just be a natural response towards increased blood pressure.
Sick sinus syndrome
People with high blood pressure can also have heartbeat abnormalities which lead to low pulse. For example, in sick sinus syndrome, the heart produces a normal beat, also known as a sinus note, but it does not function properly, leading to a slow heart rate.
This condition can be accompanied by high blood pressure and is relatively uncommon.
Phenylephrine, or Neosynephrine, is a medication that is found in nasal sprays. When used in sufficient amounts, these can induce high blood pressure, causing a reflex to lower the pulse rate.
A stroke or heart attack may also produce a low pulse when the inferior part of the heart gets damaged. It is usually accompanied by low blood pressure, but increased pressure is sometimes also noticed, especially in people with a history.
Detecting High Blood Pressure With Low Pulse
Pulse sensations can be felt or detected in the wrist of the neck, followed by counting the number of pulsations in a minute.
Using a blood pressure machine is the easiest way to measure blood pressure. Remember that increased blood pressure usually has no symptoms unless that goes over 180 mm Hg. One can also refer to a blood pressure chart to analyse the results.
Know When To Contact Your Doctor
It is essential to contact the doctor when the blood pressure goes beyond 180 mm Hg and the pulse sensations decrease to about 60 beats per minute. Remember, when the diastolic blood pressure is greater than 120 mm Hg, it is also a sign of a medical emergency.
The condition where a person experiences HBP with low pulse may or may not include any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the chest or back
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Losing consciousness
- Change in any kind of sensation
- Difficulty in swallowing and speaking
Blood pressure and pulse rate differ from condition to condition and the state of the body. When one exercises or is under stress or fear, it is common to experience an increased pulse at the time. While on the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle or position can slow it down.
It is extremely necessary to know the difference between the coping mechanisms and the problems that are linked with this condition. Knowing that a low pulse is not necessarily an indication of a damaged heart or high blood pressure is also vital.
Ensure that you speak to your doctor and discuss this condition to find a suitable solution.
Moran JF. Pulse. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278/
Reule S, Drawz PE. Heart rate and blood pressure: any possible implications for management of hypertension? Curr Hypertens Rep. 2012 Dec;14(6):478-84. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3491126/