A low blood pressure with a high pulse, or heart rate, can occur after exercising or standing up too quickly. Other possible causes include pregnancy, medication use, or shock, a potentially life threatening condition.

Low blood pressure by itself may not be an issue unless it causes symptoms. Some people with low blood pressure may experience mild to moderate symptoms.

The normal range for blood pressure is below 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for many healthy adults. While there is no precise cutoff point for low blood pressure, the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute (NHBLI) consider low blood pressure to be anything below 90/60 mm Hg.

In general, a high pulse or heart rate is more than 100 beats per minute. Other factors may cause variations to this number as well.

Although some causes of low blood pressure and high heart rate are benign, a person should contact a doctor. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a person may require immediate medical attention. This is because it can indicate more severe conditions, such as infection, sepsis, and septic shock.

Keep reading to learn more about what may cause low blood pressure and a high pulse.

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The cause of low blood pressure with a high pulse varies. Sometimes, symptoms occur after a specific activity, such as standing up too quickly, while others result from an underlying issue.

Sometimes, having low blood pressure leads to a higher pulse, but this is not always the case.

When a person has low blood pressure, the blood flow that pushes against the arteries’ walls is weaker than normal. If the blood pressure is particularly low, the heart may have difficulty delivering enough oxygen-rich blood to the organs.

In response, the body might increase the heart rate to push more oxygenated blood to the organs. This process may cause a combination of low blood pressure and high pulse.

Low blood pressure and a high pulse can cause the following symptoms:

Additional symptoms can include pain in the chest (angina), head, and neck, and reduced cognitive ability, such as difficulty concentrating.

There are a few situations when low blood pressure and a high pulse may happen, though the exact cause will vary from person to person.

Orthostatic hypotension

Sometimes, standing up too quickly may cause a temporary spike in pulse with a drop in blood pressure. This condition, called orthostatic hypotension, is generally temporary.

The condition is common, and some people may not experience any symptoms.

When moving from lying down to a standing position quickly, gravity forces blood downward. This leads to extra pressure. The extra pressure means that the heart has to work harder against the force of gravity to pump the same amount of blood around the body.

If the heart suddenly cannot do so, the body responds by narrowing the blood vessels and increasing the heart rate to get the blood moving back toward the heart.

The effects of this are generally short-lived and go away as the body successfully adjusts to the change in position.

Most people do not experience symptoms, and the effect on blood pressure and heart rate is minimal.


Exercise may also cause temporary increases in heart rate. The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that exercise causes the heart to pump faster to allow for more blood to reach the muscles.

As the heart beats faster, the blood vessels dilate to allow more oxygenated blood to travel around the body, supplying the muscles with the oxygen they need. Because the dilated blood vessels allow the blood to pass through easily, blood pressure may increase by a small amount.

The heart rate does not return to normal immediately after exercising because the heart keeps pumping faster than normal to ensure the muscles have enough oxygen.

How long it takes for the heart to reach its normal resting rate may depend on personal factors and overall health.

There are some situations where a person’s blood pressure may fall during and after exercise. A 2016 meta-analytic investigation found that in the hours following a workout, exercise can lower a person’s blood pressure.

Additionally, losing too much water through sweat and exercising in the heat can lead to being dehydrated. Dehydration can sometimes cause a drop in blood pressure.

Some people also experience post-exercise hypotension. This refers to a phenomenon where a person experiences a prolonged decrease in blood pressure after exercise. The decrease in blood pressure can last from a few minutes to hours.


In other cases, low blood pressure and a high heart rate may point to a medical emergency.

Shock is a life threatening condition that occurs when a person’s blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels, meaning the organs do not receive enough blood or oxygen. Some causes of shock include:

  • severe infection, causing septic shock
  • trauma
  • blood loss
  • allergic reaction

Signs of shock include:

  • a weak, rapid heart rate
  • low blood pressure that makes a person feel dizzy if they stand up
  • shallow but fast breathing rate
  • clammy, cold, pale skin
  • confusion or disorientation
  • fainting

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.

Other underlying conditions

An underlying condition or issue can also cause a high heart rate and low blood pressure.

The AHA lists several underlying issues that may cause symptoms of low blood pressure alongside a high heart rate:


Certain medications may also cause symptoms resulting from low blood pressure. These may include:

Can dehydration cause low blood pressure and high heart rate?

The AHA states that dehydration can sometimes cause low blood pressure. However, low blood pressure is more likely if a person is significantly dehydrated.

Dehydration can also lead to orthostatic hypotension, heart palpitations, and a fast heart rate.

Having low blood pressure is not always an immediate cause for concern. Many people with low blood pressure are unaware that they have it. Doctors may only consider treatment for low blood pressure if it causes troubling symptoms.

People who experience temporary symptoms of low blood pressure, such as lightheadedness or increased heart rate after standing up too quickly, should sit down to rest until the symptoms subside.

People who frequently experience these symptoms must take great care when moving from a prone position to standing to avoid falling.

If a medication causes symptoms of low blood pressure, doctors may recommend switching medications or lowering a dosage. A person should only change their medication under the guidance of a doctor.

The NHLBI notes that some people may not need treatment for low blood pressure at all. However, for those that do, possible treatments may include:

  • drinking water to avoid dehydration
  • taking medications to raise the blood pressure
  • changing eating habits
  • wearing compression stockings

Doctors will discuss specific treatment options with the person in each case.

If a person’s low blood pressure is a result of infection or shock, a person may need antibiotics, IV fluids, and medications to increase blood flow.

Treatment for high pulse will vary according to a range of factors.

It is helpful to try to identify when the pulse first began to rise. Some episodes of a high pulse may be temporary. For example, if a person develops a high pulse after moving from a prone to a standing position too quickly, the heart might beat more quickly to compensate for gravity’s effects.

People who experience bouts of low blood pressure or high pulse while moving from a prone to a standing position could try to slow down these movements to help avoid the issue.

Exercising may also lead to a high heart rate, especially if a person is not very fit. This is because the heart may start beating faster even after a person attempts minor exercise.

If a person notices that their heart is beating faster, finding ways to calm the body and brain may help. A person can try slowing down their breathing rate or practicing guided meditations to help them relax and reduce their heart rate.

If the heart rate does not go back to normal or if a person is experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, they should contact seek immediate medical attention.

Learn more about how to lower resting heart rate here.

Anyone who experiences worrying symptoms of shock should seek emergency medical attention.

People who experience mild but uncomfortable symptoms of low blood pressure may also want to talk with their doctor to discuss treatment options.

Anyone uncertain or uncomfortable about symptoms such as low blood pressure and high heart rate should see a doctor as well. A full diagnosis can help bring peace of mind and identify any underlying issues.

Having low blood pressure is not always a cause for concern. A high pulse with low blood pressure may occur for various reasons. Some people may regularly experience a higher heart rate than normal, as the heart pumps more to make up for their lower blood pressure.

Sometimes the heart rate rises temporarily after standing up quickly or after a workout. They are not usually a cause for concern.

Sometimes, the combination of low blood pressure and a high pulse signifies that the body is not getting enough oxygen. This may put the body at risk for shock, which can be serious.

Anyone who suspects their body is going into shock should seek immediate, emergency medical attention.