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Ways to increase blood volume?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Ways to increase blood *PRESSURE* (I can't seem to edit the title typo)


I have always suspected that I suffer from mitral valve prolapse (seems to run in the family).  In case you are unfamiliar, all you need to know is that I have low blood pressure, I'm often dizzy and faint, I seem to feel tired just about all of the time.  I've mentioned these symptoms to doctors ever since I was in high school, but low blood pressure is celebrated and never cause for concern for them.  Nobody's ever gotten to the bottom of my fatigue.


Well, at 28 wks pregnant and with a toddler, I'm just about to lose my mind.  I am so incredibly tired.  I can't do anything.  My doctor suggested drinking tons and tons of water to increase my low blood volume...but I am peeing literally every 15-20 minutes and it makes it impossible to run errands.  (Unless they have that seat that is attached to the wall...I can't take my toddler into the bathroom, especially with a full cart of groceries).  I am so uncomfortable because I always feel like I have to pee (it's not bladder pressure from the baby, it's just all this damn liquid).  I don't WANT to drink all of this water.  It's not helping and it's totally annoying.


Anyone know of ways to support the increasing blood volume or increase blood pressure or get rid of constant fatigue?  I tend to be a really healthy eater and take a few supplements. All of these foods and supplements tout how they can "lower your blood pressure".  *rolls eyes*  But, how can I RAISE my blood pressure?!?!  Sometimes coffee is all I can do to raise it a little and get going.  I worry about it while pregnant.  I often have 1 cup a day or a medium at Starbucks that is half decaf.



***some supplement info that might be helpful***

I take chlorella thinkning that would make my blood more efficient?  And help with iron.  (and yet, I still crave ice which they say is related to low iron).  And I take vit C (sodium ascorbate powdered form) hoping to combat possible adrenal fatigue.  Probably about 3,000 mg a day.

Edited by Dot-to-Dot - 3/6/11 at 9:49am
post #2 of 11

Putting more salt on your food or eating saltier foods is one of the easiest ways. My mom has low blood pressure and she makes sure she salts everything adequately. Drinking adequate water helps with blood volume and therefore pressure, but drinking more than you need doesn't really do anything additional because your kidneys just get rid of it all (as you've already figured out!) If I were in your shoes, I'd put some more pressure on the doctors to try to get to the bottom of the problem. Fatigue and low blood pressure are fairly non-specific symptoms and could be due to a number of issues, and if you don't treat the right one then you won't get anywhere.

post #3 of 11

How much salt do you have in your diet? Salt will help you retain the fluid you're drinking which will increase your blood volume which will increase your blood pressure.


Unfortunately though, there just may not be anything you can do. It can be pretty hard to overcome the vasodilation of pregnancy.  I had similar symptoms when I was pregnant and nothing I did made much difference. The good news is that birth fixed the problem immediately thumb.gif



post #4 of 11

What is your blood pressure, if you don't mind my asking?  I also have very low blood pressure, so I know that it can be annoying. 


Salt, as the others said, is one strategy, because it can help you to retain water.  Drinking a lot is another way to increase your fluid volume.  You might try a beverage with a bit of sugar and a bit of salt (e.g., a sport drink), as that will improve absorption.  I've found that if I am very consistent about how much I drink (even if it's quite a lot) I won't have to go to the bathroom as often as if I drink a lot after letting myself get dehydrated. 


As for coffee, it can pick you up, but it can also be very dehydrating, which, in the long run, is not at all a good thing for your blood pressure.  I'd recommend cutting it out entirely if you can manage it.  Exercise is a great and healthy alternative if you need a quick boost.  It doesn't work for me, unfortunately, because I also have problems with tachycardia that make exercise more of a drain than a boost.  But that shouldn't be an issue for you even if you have MVP.  (Speaking of MVP, you really should get an echo to find out for sure whether you have it or whether you should look for other causes for your symptoms.)


Oh, also, protein is really important for increasing blood volume.  Are you getting enough, do you think? 


ETA:  I know you are asking about blood pressure, not blood volume, but IMO increasing blood volume, especially in pregnancy, is probably the best way to increase blood pressure.  Just to clarify.  smile.gif

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you all.  My bp today (after getting myself ready for appt while running after a toddler, walking through a big parking lot, getting up the stairs at Dr's office) was 84/44 and I suspect it would have been lower if I'd just been sitting at home.  I know it was lower yesterday when I couldn't lift my poor, pathetic body off the floor for more than a few minutes.


I've tried the sport drink thing (when I wasn't pregnant though).  Gosh, I just feel like my life is consumed with drinking water and it still doesn't work.  I definitely salt my food generously, but I have no idea how much I'm getting exactly.  I try to eat a lot of protein, too, but I am often too exhausted to get myself food much less stand in the kitchen long enough to prepare anything wholesome - so it's possible I don't get enough (I think they tested albumin today ((doesn't that tell you if you're low on protein?)).  I try really hard to make healthy stuff ahead of time on a day when I can muster the energy.  (Homemade protein bars, chicken bone broth, pregnancy herbal tea, etc.)  But if I can't hardly stand, well, then I'm eating more processed stuff which I hate to do - but it's that or starve.  Interestingly, I feel MUCH better when I fast.  Crazy, I know.


From what I understand it isn't terribly valuable to go in and do the tilt test and all that because it'd only confirm what we already suspect and there's nothing that can be done about it....except for a beta blocker which my doctor says he wouldn't want me to take while pregnant or nursing and isn't a fan of the medication at all really.   *shrugs* Admittedly, I don't know much about it.  I have some insurance restraints and I really don't want to do it unless I know it'd get me somewhere because it will cost us a fortune.  But if anyone here knows enough to convince me otherwise, I'm listening.

post #6 of 11

How old are you? I have MVP too - was diagnosed in my early 20s and also have disautonomia which is the syndrome associated with MVP (migraines, depression, palpitations, irrythmia, low blood pressure, IBS, etc). As I have gotten older, my symptoms with low blood pressure and palpitations has improved - except for this pregnancy. I am 40 and not working currently, which allows me to "laze" about more - I have horrible pain in my pelvis and walking around is unbearable - I have given up grocery shopping. I find my fatigue and palpitations are worse if I do sit around more. I am now 32 weeks and blood pressure has gotten better (probably just weight of baby causing it to go up plus toddler driving me crazy). I do not restrict any salt - I eat chips and whatever else I like, and not really a "healthy" eater right now. I would suggest, based on my experience of never really having a doctor take MVP seriously, that you try to move about more as much as you can and eat more. Maybe try decaf coffee which has a little bit of caffeine (i cannot even tolerate decaf) Blood sugar lows are bad for this condition, so snack more throughout the day to keep that more even and give you more energy. If you can do a brisk walk twice a day that would work wonders. My last pregnancy was great I think because I was working where I had a long walk to and from the parking lot morning and evening, and walking around at work at a big facility. I had no bp issues or palpitations - that was 3 yrs ago.

post #7 of 11

It sounds like you have Orthostatic Hypotension, which means that your blood pressure falls at times it shouldnt. Go see a Cardiologist to determine. Extra salt in your diet can help. Even while pregnant 1 extra tsp of salt or one salt tab a day is safe. I have POTS which is Posteral Othostatic Tachycardic Hypotension. Its all relative. 

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you for these replies. Baby is 2, almost 3 now! So I survived the pregnancy. smile.gif but I do still struggle woth low bp and days where I can hardly move. But, as much as I resist, moving does end up helping. I should really work on regular walks. I have. Treadmill. Tjere is no excuse...
post #9 of 11

I know this is an old thread, but for anyone else struggling with low blood pressure, fatigue, and dizziness...


I have had this problem during every pregnancy.  First time around, the midwife did not take it seriously at all.  When I started fainting, I went to my primary care doctor.  He prescribed thigh-high compression stockings.  These help to keep blood from pooling in your legs so that it better refreshes your brain.  (Thigh-high so they don't press on your growing tummy!)  They were very helpful.


My second pregnancy miscarried at 7 weeks.  When this one got past that point, I asked my doctor for new compression stockings, and I have been wearing them daily ever since.  I have had only one fainting spell, not dozens like I did in the first pregnancy, and my energy level was a lot better until a few weeks ago when I began feeling very tired.  Although I've developed mild anemia, an extra iron supplement not only didn't help my energy but didn't stop the decline in blood iron level.  Further bloodwork showed that I am deficient in Vitamin B12.  Now that I'm taking a supplement of that, I feel a lot better.


Here's a homemade sports drink that has the effect of Gatorade, etc., without the artificial coloring and junk:


post #10 of 11

thanks for the updates and ideas. i am almost 8 weeks and am so lightheaded with low blood pressure. i have been drinking the water, eating salt, stocking up blood building nutrients, and trying to rest lots. i'll try the stockings if this flares again!

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Yes, thank you for that update!

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