Why does high blood pressure and low pulse occur

Why does high blood pressure and low pulse occur


High blood pressure and low pulse don’t happen often. Certain medications or medical conditions can cause this condition to occur.

The pulse rate of a person indicates their heart rate and shows how many times per minute does the heartbeat. Bradycardia is a condition that doctors describe when there is a low pulse or less than 60 beats per minute.

The measure of the force of blood inside the blood vessels is blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risks of heart attack and stroke because it can overload the circulatory system.

According to the new guidelines released by the American Heart Association, the majority of doctors consider high blood pressure as greater than 130/80.

Extremely high blood pressure is pressure greater than 170/100.

Let's take a look at the possible reasons why high blood pressure with a low pulse occurs.


Beta-blockers are medication prescribed by doctors for the treatment of high pressure and to reduce the side effects of heart failure.

Examples of beta-blockers are:

  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • nebivolol (Bystolic)
  • atenolol (Tenormin)
  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)

These medications block beta receptors in the heart. By blocking the beta receptors the heart rate is decreased while stimulating the receptor's heart rate increases.

For a person with heart problems is better to have a lower heart rate, because it allows more time for the heart to fill. The heart needs less oxygen when it beats slower. This rests the heart and it puts less stress on it.

Doctors sometimes prescribe beta-blockers to people who have congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, or cardiac arrhythmia when the heartbeat is irregular. People who have high blood pressure take beta-blockers in order to lower their heart rate.


In order to reduce blood pressure, doctors can prescribe other medications such as:

  • angiotensin receptor blockers
  • calcium channel blockers
  • angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors

These drugs treat blood pressure but do not affect the heart rate.

Cushing reflex

The Cushing reflex doesn’t happen often and it causes a low pulse and high blood pressure.

The reflex occurs because the body responds to the increased intracranial pressure. Intracranial pressure is a measurement of blood pressure in the brain. The brain is located in the skull of a person, so when it swells, there is only so far it can expand. Intracranial pressure increases due to the swelling.

The Cushing reflex occurs because it’s a way of the body to prevent pressure from getting too high in the skull. It signals receptors in the heart in order to slow down the heart rate and to lower the intracranial pressure.

The Cushing reflex is triggered by some severe medical conditions such as:

  • concussions
  • hypoxia
  • stroke
  • meningitis
  • brain tumors
  • trauma
  • bleeding into the brain

Treatments for the Cushing reflex

When doctors recognize the condition, they try to treat the cause and reduce the intracranial pressure in the brain. The brain can be permanently damaged if the pressure gets too high. If a person has excessively high intracranial pressure, he can die.

Heart conduction problems

If a person has a low pulse rate, his heart’s electrical conduction pathway may be in trouble. The electrical system of the heart travels in a distinct pattern and makes the heartbeat with a regular rhythm. If the heart is scarred, damaged or overstretched, the electrical system doesn’t work as effectively. This can be the reason why the low pulse rate occurs.

The electrical system can also be damaged by chronic blood pressure which leads to a low pulse rate. Heavy drugs, alcohol, aging of the heart and cigarettes can also damage the electrical system.

Treatments for a damaged electrical system

You should immediately see a doctor if your pulse slows down suddenly. It will take away your breath and make you feel dizzy.

To repair the damaged electrical heart pathways, sometimes a person needs a pacemaker or other intervention such as cardiac ablation.

When should you see a doctor

You should immediately go to your doctor if you have a low pulse and high blood pressure along with these symptoms:

  • feeling faint or fainting
  • chest pains
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness or lightheadedness

If you have one of these symptoms you may need to stay in a hospital and it is even possible that you require a pacemaker to treat the underlying heart problem.


High blood pressure and a low pulse rate is something that doesn’t happen very often. Unless people take some medication that affects their pulse rate, it is more likely that they have high blood pressure.

If people with high blood pressure take certain medicines, their pulse rate may lower, while their blood pressure will remain high. In some occasions if the intracranial pressure increases, it may induce the Cushing reflex and a low pulse rate and high blood pressure.

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Petar Jangelovski
Petar Jangelovski

Petar Jangelovski A former ESL teacher who enjoys reading books and going out with friends. Experienced and creative translator, and once upon a time a poet, who wrote Shakespearean-like sonnets.

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