Join Clinical Trials for Low Blood Pressure
The term “blood pressure” refers to the amount of blood that your heart pumps and the amount of resistance it receives from your arteries. The higher your blood pressure, the more likely it is to cause health problems, including heart disease. It is only natural, therefore, to assume that low blood pressure would be ideal.
On a basic level, it is; however, if blood pressure is chronically low, it can lead to persistent dizziness and even fainting. Under severe circumstances, low-blood pressure can be fatal. Normal blood pressure is considered anything under 120/80 mm Hg, with 120 referring to the systolic pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats), and 80 referring to the diastolic pressure (the pressure in your arteries between heart beats).
Low blood pressure is generally defined as a blood pressure reading below 90/60 mm Hg;however, many physicians and researchers consider the presence of one or the other (i.e., a low systolic or a low diastolic pressure) to be sufficient for the consideration of low blood pressure. For example, an individual with a systolic pressure of 115 but a diastolic pressure of 48 would be considered to have low blood pressure (i.e., 115/48 mm Hg).
Generally speaking, there are three main types of low blood pressure. Orthostatic hypotension (including a condition known as postprandial orthostatic hypotension) occurs as a result of a sudden change in body position, usually when moving from lying to standing. It can cause temporary sensations of lightheadedness or dizziness, as well as pressure in the head.
However, it is usually fleeting and lasts no more than a few seconds. Postprandial orthostatic hypotension occurs immediately after eating, and tends to affect older adults, individuals who have high blood pressure, and people with Parkinson’s disease.
The second type of low blood pressure is known as neurally mediated hypotension (NMH) and usually affects young adults and children. It generally occurs after standing for a prolonged period of time, and children tend to outgrow it. Finally, the third type of low blood pressure is that which is severe and sudden, and is triggered by uncontrolled bleeding, infection, or a severe allergic reaction.
Low blood pressure can also be a side effect of numerous drugs including alcohol, anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, diuretics, heart medications, surgical medications, and certain painkillers. Low blood pressure can also result from pregnancy, abnormal heart rhythms, heart valve disease, heart attacks, and congestive heart failure, in addition to thyroid problems, chronic low blood sugar, and insufficiency of the adrenal gland.
Current research is focused on improving ways to counteract low blood pressure that occurs in relation to heart disease and other underlying conditions, as well as that which occurs as a side effect to certain medications and therapies.
What Will Clinical Trials for Low Blood Pressure Be Like?
The types of tests and assessments used in low blood pressure clinical trials will ultimately depend on the specific nature of the study and if other conditions, such as certain types of cardiovascular disease, are also being studied. Provided below is a list of frequent procedures and tests used to evaluate the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, many of which may be incorporated for use in clinical trials:
- Physical exam and detailed medical history
- Blood pressure evaluation (using an inflatable blood pressure cuff and pressure gauge)
- Detailed family history of heart diseases and cardiovascular disease.
- Genetic testing
- Blood tests to evaluate the effectiveness or chemical properties of a medication, if you are participating in a clinical trial that is investigating the use of a new drug.
- If the study is evaluating aspects related to a particular type of heart disease, the following tests and procedures may also be utilized:
- Cardiac catheterization: a procedure during which a long, thin, and flexible tube (i.e., catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm, upper thigh, or neck and threaded through until it reaches your heart. This allows doctors to perform diagnostic tests and treatments, as well as to evaluate blockages in the blood vessels.
- Computed tomography (CT scan, or “CAT scan”) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: these are non-invasive imaging procedures, similar to an x-ray, that allow doctors to take detailed pictures of your heart.
- Coronary angiography: a procedure during which a dye is injected into a vein in your arm and then viewed using a special x-ray machine, CT scanner, or MRI machine.
- Echocardiography (“echo”): a painless procedure that uses ultrasound to create moving pictures of your heart, which allow doctors to see its size, shape, and how well it is working.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG, or ECG): a straightforward and painless procedure that records the electrical activity of the heart.
- Stress test: a test performed while you exercise (usually by walking or running on a treadmill, or pedaling a stationary bicycle), which allows doctors to evaluate how your heart works during episodes of physical stress.
- Pain and quality of life assessments, as well as diet, exercise and/or medication diaries, may also be required in some studies, depending on the research question being studied.
Typical Low Blood Pressure Clinical Trial Protocol:
Specific examples of clinical trials for low blood pressure might include the following:
- A study in pregnant women to compare the effectiveness of two different therapeutic methods of preventing a sudden drop in blood pressure during Cesarean section delivery.
- A randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of a new drug in Parkinson’s disease patients with orthostatic hypotension. In this trial, patients receiving the new drug would be compared to patients receiving a placebo.
- A study to determine if intravenous (i.e., “IV”) administered norepinephrine (a hormone produced by the central nervous system that helps to regulate blood pressure) can effectively maintain blood pressure in individuals diagnosed with orthostatic hypotension.
- A study in which an educational intervention is provided to people with orthostatic hypotension to determine if learned behavioral changes (such as posture awareness, mindful movements, etc.) can help to reduce the occurrence of symptoms.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo. Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug or therapy is being investigated, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone (such as the second clinical trial example provided above). In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
It is important to know that placebo-only trials are only conducted when scientifically necessary and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment. It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular disease or condition.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors. Therefore, it is important to know many details pertaining to your specific diagnosis when searching for clinical trials. Examples of the details you may want to have on hand include:
- Your specific diagnosis low blood pressure (i.e., orthostatic hypotension, neurally mediated hypotension, etc.)
- The presence of any related risk factors / associated conditions (i.e., thyroid problems, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease)
- Your current medications (including aspirin), vitamins, and dietary supplements
- Your most recent blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride (i.e., lipid) levels
Suggested Search Terms:
“low blood pressure prevention,” “low blood pressure management,” “low blood pressure treatment,” “low blood pressure genetics,” “low blood pressure diet,” “low blood pressure exercise,” “low blood pressure diabetes,” “low blood pressure risk factors,” “low blood pressure pregnancy,” and “low blood pressure children.”
Current Search Term:
“Low Blood Pressure”
General Clinical Trial Information