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Will the blood be sent to lower extremities when the BP is high?

Apr 2013
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General Surgeon
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 9351 Questions
When blood pressure is up, will more blood be sent to lower extremities(feet)?
Conversely, when blood pressure is low, is less blood sent to the feet?
Posted Fri, 5 Jul 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 37 minutes later
Hi and welcome to XXXXXXX Thank you for your query.

Generally speaking yes, but blood flow isnt related just to blood pressure but some other factors affect it ( vascular resistance, blood viscosity, heart function).

In most cases low blood pressure causes low blood flow in perifery ( feet, hands). But, everytime when there is blood pressure elevation or lowering our body reacts by several mechanism. This is because our body tries to keep blood flow constant.
In the beginning if there is rapid BP fall, there is a constriciton of vessels in feet and arms because our body wants to direct blood flow into important organs( heart,brain and kidneys). This is a reason why there is less blood sent to periphery. Also heart beats faster. After this, during next days and weeks,your kidneys will keep more fluids in your vessels and your BP will stabilize.

High blood pressure causes higher blood flow,but also only in the beginning. After some time, heart beats will be slower and this will back blood flow to normal level.
SO the most optimal BP for blood flow is 120/80. Our body has mechanisms to optimize blood flow if BP is about 160mmHg or 80MmHg. If this is higher or lower than these, there will be inadequate blood flow in arms and legs and other organs.
Also, you must know that blood flow in feet can be insufficient if there is vascular (venous or arterial disorder) such as varicose veins, atherosclerosis or diabetes. If you suffer from these cinditions then low BP can worsen symptoms and it should be carefully regulated.
Wish you good health. Regards

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Will the blood be sent to lower extremities when the BP is high? 10 hours later
I'm pretty sure that I don't have diabetes, but I do have neuropathy in my feet. The toes burn and sting at night. I also have a bisoprolol 2.5mg). Also, I am taking meds for hightened choloesterol, (simvastatin 20mg).

I see that atherosclerosis could be a cause of restricted blood flow to the feet and, possibly, high blood pressure(hbp). Since I have both conditions, I'm wondering if atherosclerosis, be a cause of my problems. But, as I have found on the net, atherosclerosis, hbp and peripheral neuropathy can be caused by many things. Its very confusing, and seems that there would be several necessary tests. It looks like the necessary steps would take a long time, and I am often at great discomfort . Is there any way to pin down the cause of my neuropathy?
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 9 hours later

Neuropathy can be caused by many things,this is true. But HBP is in mre than 95% of cases essential and medical treatment is good enough for regulation. Also atherosclerosis is mostly caused by aging, elevated blood lipids, smoking, overweight and genetic. YOu can affect on it by lowering blood lipids and avoiding other risk factors(HBP, blood sugar, adiposity).

The most common cause of neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy but if you ruled this out then some other may be considered such as alcoholic (i hope you dont abuse alcohol), toxic( if you use cytotxoic drugs), metabolic (if there is vitamin and other nutritients insufficiency, thyroid hormonal imbalance), degenerative/autoimmune neuropathy. and there are some rare causes: infectious,cancer or radiation.

So you need to do detailed blood work to check for vitamin and hormonal levels. ALso check specific imunoglobulines to rule out autoimmune neuropathy. If nothing is found then the last option is nerve biopsy.

Atherosclerosis is very common cause of restricted blood flow and this is first thing to think of. It causes obstruction of vessels by plaque and this is mostly seen in legs arteries and coronary arteries. It can be evaluated by doppler US or even better by CT angiography. If there is significant vessel oclcusion it can be managed surgically.

WIsh you good health. Regards
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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