Know why your blood pressure fluctuates

cause of blood pressure fluctuations

When you monitor your blood pressure regularly, you will notice that your readings may sometimes be inconsistent even during a single day, let alone a month. But before you hurry to your doctor, here’s what you need to know. Blood pressure fluctuations are natural and often fleeting. They occur in response to changes in your mood or everyday routine like lack of sleep, food intake, overexertion, exercise, etc.   

Let us look at some factors that can cause temporary, but significant fluctuations in your blood pressure readings: 

1) Time of day and blood pressure patterns

Your blood pressure follows a daily pattern. It usually reads lower at night when you are asleep and starts rising a few hours before you are awake. It continues to rise throughout the day and is at its peak during the afternoon. As night approaches, your blood pressure level starts dropping once again. This phenomenon is natural and will result in variable blood pressure readings in a single day.

2) Exercise and temporary spikes in blood pressure 

Exercise puts an additional strain on your cardiovascular system. Your heart starts pumping harder and faster to circulate blood and deliver oxygen to your muscles. As a result, your systolic blood pressure rises. However, this spike in blood pressure is typically temporary. It’s therefore advisable to check your blood pressure at least two hours after exercising or any physical activity.   

3) Emotions and high blood pressure 

When your body is overwhelmed with emotions such as anxiety, panic, fear or stress, your adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol and adrenaline. These can make your heart beat faster and your blood pressure rises. This is your body’s natural response to a stressful situation. Once you calm down, your blood pressure will normalize.  

4) Cold weather and its effect on blood pressure   

Blood pressure tends to read higher when it’s cold and lower when it’s hot. That’s because lower temperatures cause your veins & arteries to narrow, resulting in added pressure needed to pump blood throughout your body. This means, your pressure will tend to be higher during the winter season or when you check it while seated in an air-conditioned room. 

5) Medication and its effect on blood pressure 

There are many prescription & OTC medications, herbal supplements and other substances too that can cause your blood pressure to rise. Painkillers & anti-inflammatory medications make your body retain water, creating kidney problems, thus increasing your blood pressure. Birth control pills & devices also contain hormones that may increase your blood pressure levels. Even OTC cold medicines contain decongestants that lead to a temporary increase in your blood pressure.   

6) Effect of weight loss and weight gain on blood pressure 

Your body pressure rises as your weight increases. Therefore, sudden weight gain or weight loss over a short period can cause your blood pressure fluctuations as well.  

8) Coffee consumption and blood pressure 

About 200 to 300 ml of caffeine can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. Caffeine blocks the hormone that helps keep your arteries widened, thus hindering your blood flow. It also increases the production of cortisol and adrenaline, which speeds up blood flow, causing a spike in blood pressure. 

9) Effects of a Full Bladder on Blood Pressure  

This will surely come to you as a surprise, but as your bladder gradually fills, your blood pressure increases. Studies have shown that your systolic blood pressure measurements could increase by 10 to 15mmHg when you have a full bladder.  

10) Certain Foods & beverages

You’ve probably heard that consuming salty foodstuffs can cause your blood pressure to rise. It’s true! But besides that, there are many other foods and beverages that have the same effect on your blood pressure. Foods like aged cheese, beer, wine & cured meats containing the blood-pressure-regulating amino acid tyramine, can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. Soft drinks with added sugar can also bump up your systolic pressure by up to 15 points.   

11) Dehydration and blood pressure

Your blood pressure tends to read higher when your body’s cells don’t have enough water. This happens because your blood vessels tighten up and your brain sends a signal to your kidneys to retain the fluids that you have in your body.     

12) Effects of inadequate on blood pressure

Lack of sleep can also lead to blood pressure fluctuations. Sleep helps your blood regulates stress hormones and helps your nervous system remain healthy. Over time, lack of enough sleep – 5 hours or less, could hamper your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, leading to high blood pressure.   

13) Smoking and blood pressure:  

Smokers are more likely to develop high blood pressure and heart diseases, as the nicotine present in cigarette raises your blood pressure and heart rate. Over the course of time, it narrows and hardens the walls of your arteries and makes your blood clot. This puts immense stress on the heart, setting you up for a heart attack or stroke. 

Acceptance of Digital Home Blood Pressure Monitors by Doctors: 

While blood pressure spikes & valleys due to the above conditions are normal, extremely high or unusually low-pressure readings may signify an underlying condition. Taking only one reading at the doctor’s clinic may not be enough to help your doctor know the blood pressure fluctuations that occur in your body. These fluctuations can only be noted by measuring your blood pressure multiple times during the day. Using a Home Blood Pressure Monitor will help your doctors identify the patterns in your blood pressure and can accordingly decide whether you require medications or not. It’s therefore important to log the fluctuations in your blood pressure so that it’s easier for your doctor to identify a pattern or a problem.

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