Is It Normal For Blood Pressure To Fluctuate
It’s normal for blood pressure to vary somewhat throughout the day. Stress, exercise, and sleep can all make a difference. But if your blood pressure often changes significantly from one healthcare visit to another, there may a problem.
Studies have found that visit-to-visit changes in blood pressure are sometimes linked to a higher risk of heart disease and early death.
This article explains why your blood pressure numbers may be high sometimes and normal other times. It also offers advice about when to see a healthcare provider.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
Checking Blood Pressure At Home
Keeping track of blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor find out if your treatment is working.
Your doctor may also suggest that you check your pressure at home if they think you may have “white coat hypertension.” It’s a real condition. The stress of being in a doctor’s office raises your blood pressure, but when you’re home, it’s normal.
Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the cuff fits properly. If your arm is too big for the cuff, the reading may be higher than your blood pressure really is. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff or make sure you buy a home monitor with a cuff that fits you.
You also can use a wrist blood pressure monitor, but they often aren’t as accurate. Follow the directions that come with the device to make sure you are using it correctly.
No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, it’s a good idea to take it to your doctor’s office. You can compare its reading to the numbers your doctor gets. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.
When you take your blood pressure at home, sit up straight in a chair and put both feet on the floor. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you the right way to position your arm so you get accurate readings.
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What Medications Are Used To Treat High Blood Pressure
Four classes of high blood pressure medications are considered first line when starting treatment. Sometimes other medications are coupled with these first-line drugs to better control your high blood pressure. First-line, pressure-lowering medications are:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors block the production of the angiotensin II hormone, which the body naturally uses to control blood pressure. When angiotensin II is blocked, your blood vessels dont narrow. Examples: lisinopril , enalapril or captopril.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers block this same hormone from binding with receptors in the blood vessels. ARBs work the same way as ACE inhibitors to keep blood vessels from narrowing. Examples: metoprolol , valsartan or losartan.
- Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels, allowing these vessels to relax. Examples: amlodipine , nifedipine , diltiazem .
- Diuretics flush excess sodium from your body, reducing the amount of fluid in your blood. Diuretics are often used with other high blood pressure medicines, sometimes in one combined pill. Examples: indapamide, hydrochlorothiazide or chlorothiazide.
How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed
Since high blood pressure doesnt have symptoms, your healthcare provider will need to check your blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff. Providers usually check your blood pressure at every annual checkup or appointment. If you have high blood pressure readings at two appointments or more, your provider may tell you that you have high blood pressure.
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What Does The Systolic Blood Pressure Number Mean
Hereâs how to understand your systolic blood pressure number:
- Normal: Below 120
- Stage 1 high blood pressure : 130-139
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or more
- Hypertensive crisis: 180 or more. Call 911.
How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
Theres only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
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Diagnosing High Or Low Blood Pressure
Only one of your numbers needs to be higher than it should be to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, and only one needs to be lower than it should be to be diagnosed with low blood pressure.
So if your top number is over 140 or the bottom number is over 90, you may be diagnosed with , regardless of the other number. If your top number is under 90 or your bottom number is under 60, you may be diagnosed with . Use the to see where your numbers sit.
If your top number is consistently higher than 140mmHg, but the bottom number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Systolic Hypertension. If the bottom number is consistently higher than 90mmHg but the top number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension.
Making sure your readings arent a one-off
A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day, such as the temperature, when you last ate, and if youre feeling stressed.
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Read about how , getting a , the you might have if you have a high blood pressure reading, and .
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Set Weight Loss Goals
If your doctor has recommended you lose weight, talk with them about an optimal weight loss goal for you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a weight loss goal of one to two pounds a week. This can be achieved through a more nutritious diet and increased physical exercise.
Employing the help of a trainer or fitness app, and possibly even a dietician, are all methods to help you learn how to make the best choices for your body and your lifestyle.
What Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is the force that blood applies to the walls of arteries as it’s pumped throughout the body.
“Your arteries are built to withstand some pressure, but there’s a limit to what they can handle,” says Dr. Nasir.
This is why blood pressure is measured and segmented based on how it affects our health. The four blood pressure categories are:
- Normal blood pressure: Lower than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated blood pressure: Between 120-129/80 mmHg
- High blood pressure, stage 1: Between 130-139/80-90 mmHg
- High blood pressure, stage 2: 140/90 mmHg or higher
Only normal blood pressure is considered healthy. Having elevated or high blood pressure damages your heart and arteries by:
- Forcing your heart to pump harder. Over time, this causes heart muscle to thicken, making it harder for the heart to fill with and pump blood.
- Narrowing and hardening your arteries. This can limit the normal flow of blood.
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When To See A Doctor
High blood pressure typically does not cause symptoms. Only a test, which is quick and painless, can give blood pressure readings.
A person can go for routine blood pressure tests at a local clinic or monitor their blood pressure at home with a testing unit.
If readings are high, the first step is to try lifestyle changes. A person will then have to check their blood pressure regularly to determine whether the changes are effective. If blood pressure readings remain high, consult a doctor.
Anyone who does not know whether their blood pressure is within the normal range should see a doctor for a test, especially if they also experience headaches and nausea. These can be rare indications of high blood pressure.
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What Is Normal Blood Pressure By Age Adults And Children
Blood pressure ranges for adults are:
- High: Systolic of 130 or above and/or diastolic of 80 or above
- High Blood Pressure Stage 1: Systolic of 130-139 or diastolic of 80-89
- High Blood Pressure Stage 2: Systolic of 140 or higher or diastolic 90 or higher
The normal Blood Pressure Ranges for Adults Chart
|Blood Pressure Category|
|Higher than 120|
The normal blood pressure for adolescents 13 years or older is less than 120/80 mmHg.
In younger children, the normal range for blood pressure is determined by the child’s sex, age, and height. The normal range is expressed as a percentile, similar to charts used to track children’s growth.
Blood pressure is separated into three categories based upon the child’s blood pressure percentile:
The normal blood pressure range for Children Chart
|Blood Pressure Category|
Know Your Numbers: Blood Pressure
Knowing and understanding key heart numbers blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate, along with your family history allow you and your health care team to determine your risk for developing heart and cardiovascular disease. Knowing your risk is critical to preventing heart disease and for taking steps to improve your overall heart health.
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What If Just The First Blood Pressure Number Is High
For older people, often the first number is 130 or higher, but the second number is less than 80. This problem is called isolated systolic hypertension, which is due to age-related stiffening of the major arteries. It is the most common form of high blood pressure in older people and can lead to serious health problems in addition to shortness of breath during light physical activity, lightheadedness upon standing too fast, and falls. Isolated systolic hypertension is treated in the same way as regular high blood pressure but may require more than one type of blood pressure medication. If your doctor determines that your systolic pressure is above a normal level for your age, ask how you can lower it.
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