Hypertension and hypotension are conditions related to blood pressure but represent opposite ends of the spectrum. Both conditions have different causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

While hypertension is a condition of persistently high blood pressure, hypotension refers to unusually low blood pressure.

This article looks at the differences between hypertension and hypotension.

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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a long-term (chronic) medical condition where a person’s blood pressure is elevated over a period of time. It is a major risk factor for various conditions affecting the heart, kidneys, and brain.

Healthcare professionals measure a person’s blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The precise high blood pressure values are as follows:

Systolic (mm Hg)and/orDiastolic (mm Hg)
Typicalbelow 120andbelow 80
Elevated120–129 andbelow 80
Hypertension stage 1130–139or80–89
Hypertension stage 2at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg.orat least 90
Hypertensive crisisover 180and/orover 120

If a person experiences a hypertensive crisis, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Hypotension is a condition where the blood pressure is much lower than typical. This can lead to poor blood flow to the organs of the body.

A person has low blood pressure when their blood pressure is lower than 90/60 mm Hg.

A person can also experience severe low blood pressure. These readings can vary depending on the individual. However, significantly low readings, especially if they occur alongside other symptoms, might indicate a severe medical condition.

The symptoms of hypertension and hypotension can vary significantly.


Hypertension does not usually cause symptoms, especially in the early stages. For this reason, healthcare professionals sometimes refer to it as a “silent killer.”

In some cases, people with very high blood pressure — measuring 180/120 mm Hg or higher — may experience:

However, these symptoms are nonspecific and usually do not occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life threatening stage.


Symptoms of hypotension can happen because the brain and other parts of the body are not getting enough blood. Symptoms can include:

These symptoms can occur suddenly. They may also vary in intensity depending on why a person’s blood pressure drops and how quickly it happens.

The causes of hypertension and hypotension can vary.


Also called essential hypertension, primary hypertension develops over time with no identifiable cause. Among individuals with hypertension, primary hypertension is the most common form, according to the American Heart Association.

Risk factors include:

Secondary hypertension usually occurs as a result of an underlying condition. It tends to appear suddenly and can cause higher blood pressure than primary hypertension.

Causes may include kidney disease and adrenal gland tumors.


There are many causes of low blood pressure. Some causes include:

A medical professional will measure a person’s blood pressure using a piece of equipment called a sphygmomanometer.

A doctor will base the diagnosis on multiple readings over time rather than a single measurement. If it is consistently high or low, the doctor can provide a diagnosis of either hypertension or hypotension respectively.

The treatment options for each vary.


Lifestyle changes are often the first line of treatment, and they may include:

  • adjusting diet, such as lowering salt intake and eating more fruits and vegetables
  • doing regular physical activity
  • managing weight if overweight
  • limiting alcohol consumption (if applicable)
  • quitting smoking (if applicable)
  • managing stress

If lifestyle changes are not enough, or if blood pressure is very high, doctors may prescribe medication.

Common types of medication include:

It is important to regularly monitor blood pressure. This is to make sure the treatment is working well and make adjustments as necessary.


A person may not require treatment for low blood pressure.

Depending on a person’s symptoms, a doctor may suggest drinking more fluids, taking medications, or adjusting any existing medications that may be causing the low blood pressure.

Lifestyle and home remedies may also help, including:

A person can monitor their blood pressure at home. Here are some tips for effective monitoring:

  • Use correct equipment: A person may consider investing in a validated, automatic blood pressure monitor, preferably an upper arm cuff model, which tends to be more accurate than wrist or finger monitors.
  • Follow consistent measurement times: Experts recommend measuring blood pressure at the same times each day, such as morning and evening, for consistency.
  • Avoid certain substances: An individual may consider avoiding caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco consumption (if applicable) at least 30 minutes before taking the measurement, as these can affect the results.
  • Rest before measuring: It is advisable to sit quietly for 5 minutes before measuring. This helps ensure a person’s body is relaxed, providing more accurate readings.

Read on for the answers to some commonly asked questions about hypertension and hypotension.

Is one more serious than the other?

If a person has high or low blood pressure, it is advisable to contact a doctor.

A low blood pressure reading is not typically a cause of concern unless a person is experiencing other symptoms. High blood pressure, however, is a serious medical condition that can raise the risk of serious medical conditions affecting the heart, kidneys, and brain.

Can a person have both at the same time?

Although it is rare to have both at the same time, it is possible. Some people may experience fluctuations in their blood pressure. It may be high at times and low at others. This is due to various factors like medications, autonomic nervous system disorders, or dehydration.

Postprandial hypotension is a form of low blood pressure that happens after eating. Postprandial hypotension can occur in people with high blood pressure.

Hypertension refers to high blood pressure. It poses a chronic risk factor for serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems. Healthcare professionals often refer to high blood pressure as a “silent killer” as it does not often cause any symptoms.

Hypotension, also known as low blood pressure, generally poses less risk. However, hypotension can lead to symptoms like dizziness and fainting. It can be life threatening in severe cases.