Other Inconclusively Related Symptoms
A variety of symptoms may be indirectly related to, but are not always caused by, high blood pressure, such as:
- Blood spots in the eyes: Blood spots in the eyes are more common in people with diabetes or high blood pressure, but neither condition causes the blood spots. Floaters in the eyes are also not related to high blood pressure. However, an eye doctor may be able to detect damage to the optic nerve caused by untreated high blood pressure.
- Facial flushing: Facial flushing occurs when blood vessels in the face dilate. It can occur unpredictably or in response to certain triggers such as sun exposure, cold weather, spicy foods, wind, hot drinks and skin-care products. Facial flushing can also occur with emotional stress, exposure to heat or hot water, alcohol consumption and exercise all of which can raise blood pressure temporarily. While facial flushing may occur while your blood pressure is higher than usual, high blood pressure is not the cause of facial flushing.
- Dizziness: While dizziness can be a side effect of some blood pressure medications, it is not caused by high blood pressure. However, dizziness should not be ignored, especially if the onset is sudden. Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and trouble walking are all warning signs of a stroke. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Sodium And Blood Pressure
How much salt is too much salt? AHA recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day. This is one leveled teaspoon of salt, and the average American diet contains 2.5 times more salt, Dr. Bakris says. Thats a lot of salt being eaten.
Most of this salt comes from processed and packaged foods, not the salt shaker.
One Chinese-style meal has a tremendous amount of salt 4,000 to 8,000 mg, depending on what you order and if you are salt sensitive, your blood pressure may increase by as much as 40 points within a few hours, he says.
All that sodium in your bloodstream attracts more water into your blood vessels, which raises your blood volume. That is what causes your blood pressure to go up. Its similar to the way pressure increases in a garden hose if you turn up the spigot, the AHA notes.
Your kidney has to get rid of that salt, and it takes your kidney 24 to 48 hours to recalibrate, Dr. Bakris says. You may find yourself getting up at night to pee often because your blood pressure is elevated from salt and your kidney is trying to lower it by peeing it out.
What Are The Possible Complications Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can increase your risk of:
- Heart disease. High blood pressure can cause hardened arteries, which can lead to heart disease.
- Stroke. High blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels in your brain and cause a stroke.
- Kidney disease. High blood pressure can damage your kidneys ability to remove waste from your blood, which can lead to kidney disease.
You Rely Too Heavily On Convenient Processed Foods
Excessive sodium intake has a direct impact on blood pressure. More salt equals more sodium in the blood, which then pulls water from the surrounding tissues into your vessels and increases blood volume, says Dr. Beniaminovitz. More blood volume leads to higher blood pressure.
But if youre thinking, I dont even use that much salt, its probably still hiding elsewhere in your diet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Americans are consuming an average of 3,400 mg of sodium per day, which is well beyond the recommended cap of 2,300 mg per day. And of that, more than 70% of a persons sodium intake is coming from processed and restaurant foods, including things like bread, breakfast cereal, chips, cookies, pizza, canned beans and veggies, canned soups, and pasta saucenot the salt shaker itself.
Additionally, a diet heavy in processed foods can cause weight gain, and when people are overweight, the body has to pump blood to more tissue, which can increase blood pressure, says Dr. Philips. We see an extremely large amount of high blood pressure in obese patients.
BP fix: Cut way back on packaged foods.
Causes Of Spikes In Blood Pressure
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Foods That Can Spike Your Blood Pressure
With high blood pressure âon the riseâ in American society more and more of us are following the health conscious trend to protect our bodies. But what many people donât know is that there are specific foods that can spike your blood pressure alone.
With a third of our nation suffering from overly high blood pressure, hypertension, and another third suffering from prehypertension, the precursor, these foods should be strongly avoided if youâre concerned with keeping your heart pumping normally.
How Common Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common condition, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.
In 90-95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a rise in blood pressure. But all available evidence shows that lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- poor diet
- being overweight
- excessive alcohol consumption.
Also, for reasons not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.
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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.
Whats The Outlook For People With High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is common. In most people, its not a cause for concern.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor can treat it with medication or lifestyle changes.
Many people with high blood pressure dont need treatment. In fact, some people with high blood pressure have no symptoms.
If you have high blood pressure on an ongoing basis, your doctor can create a treatment plan for you.
The earlier you treat high blood pressure, the better. The more you control it, the less likely it is to cause health problems.
Talk with your doctor if you have high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you can lower your risk of complications by treating it and making small changes to your lifestyle.
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Excessive Salt Raises Blood Pressure
Too much sodium can cause water retention that puts increased pressure on your heart and blood vessels. People with high blood pressure and those at a high risk for developing hypertension, including adults over 50 and black men and women, should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily of salt.
Even people with normal levels should eat salt in moderation. Stick to no more than 2,300 mg of sodium , per day.
Most dietary sodium comes from processed foods. Rules of thumb are to choose foods with 5% or less of the daily value of sodium per serving and opt for fresh poultry, fish and lean meats, rather than canned, smoked or processed. Similarly, fresh or frozen vegetables are better than canned.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that if people cut just 1/2 teaspoon of salt per day, it could help lower the number of new cases of heart disease per year by up to 120,000.
Further, potassium found in foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, oranges, low-fat milk and halibut can counterbalance the pressure-increasing effects of sodium by helping to rid the body of excess sodium.
You Have A Strong Family History Of Hypertension
Genes do play some role in high blood pressure, which is why younger people in seemingly great health can still be diagnosed with hypertension, says Dr. Philips. However, more often than not, its also likely that people with a family history of high blood pressure share common environments that increase their riskand these are very much modifiable.
Our genes also interact with the environment and we can influence them by the choices we make, says Dr. Beniaminovitz. While lifestyle changes may not help you in never developing high blood pressure if you have a strong family history, optimal lifestyle will aid in delaying the onset of blood pressure and the need for early medications. Instead of developing high blood pressure in your 30s or 40s, with optimal diet and lifestyle you may delay the onset of high blood pressure to your late 60s or 70s.
BP fix: Keep up with the tips above!
Theres no magic bullet, but if you have a strong family history, thats even more reason to implement all of the dietary and lifestyle recommendations aboveeat whole foods, move your body more, manage stressand get your blood pressure checked regularly.
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Blood Pressure Cuff Placement
Most blood pressure reading errors are the result of improper sizingof the blood pressure cuff or placing the cuff over clothing. Improperplacement of the cuff over clothing can cause your blood pressure measurementto increase 10 to 50 points. If the cuff is too small, it can add 2 to 10points your reading. Be sure to roll up your sleeve for a blood pressure testand also let your doctor know if the cuff feels too tight around your arm.
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Is It Normal For Blood Pressure To Fluctuate
Some variation in blood pressure throughout the day is normal, especially as a response to small changes in daily life like stress, exercise, or how well you slept the night before. But fluctuations that occur regularly over a number of healthcare provider visits may indicate an underlying problem.
In fact, studies have found that a higher visit-to-visit variation in blood pressure is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
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Why You Should Take Your Own Blood Pressure At Home Or On The Go
Because of regular fluctuations in blood pressure, white-coat syndrome, and masked hypertension, doctors may recommend self-monitoring for people with HBP. There are many benefits to taking your own BP:
- Knowing your actual, average blood pressure outside of regular fluctuations
- Gaining more control over your blood pressure
- Tracking your progress
- Saving time and possibly money from frequent doctor visits and complications
Monitoring And Treatment Of Resistant Hypertension
Reining in blood pressure levels begins with the basics, such as understanding your pressure patterns. Sometimes that means wearing a pager-sized automatic blood pressure recorder for 24 hours or checking pressure with an at-home monitor several times a day. Treatment also usually involves a change or addition of medications and investigation of secondary causes along with key lifestyle changes, including:
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About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.
The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. However, most doctors agree that the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg.
A normal blood pressure reading is classed as less than 130/80mmHg.
What Complications Are Associated With Hypertension
While kids with hypertension are unlikely to have heart attacks and strokes, it still has significant risks. Hypertension causes changes in the structures of the blood vessels and heart. Since hypertension in children has historically been understudied, there isnt a lot of data about exactly what these changes mean. But we do know that in adults, hypertension increases the chance of complications in the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. Theres also compelling evidence that some of these changes are seen in children with high blood pressure.
These changes affect:
Blood vesselshigh blood pressure can damage blood vessels throughout the body, which makes it harder for organs to work efficiently.
Kidneysif the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing waste and extra fluid from the body. This extra fluid can raise blood pressure even more.
Other organsif left untreated, hypertension makes it harder for blood to reach many different parts of the body, including the eyes and the brain, and can lead to blindness and strokes.
Sudden Spikes In Blood Sugar Overnight Are Something That Diabetics Dont Want To Ever Experience
Something like this happening blood sugar soaring while youre sound asleep and totally unaware is a frightening thought.
But people who do not have diabetes dont have to worry about very high rises in blood sugar during sleep.
Actually, sugar can spike in anyone, but in people with normal sugar metabolism, no one notices, says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, and Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
The cause is normal fluctuation in body glucose and metabolism, continues Dr. Besser.
Even though we are asleep at night, the body is still working, still using energy.
At night we arent eating while we sleep , so the body has to use stored sugar to feed itself.
These stores are found in the liver and are released through a hormonal process. In most of us this is used immediately so the sugar doesnt spike.
In someone with diabetes, glycogen is converted to blood sugar , and this happens with everyone but with diabetics the body cannot use this glucose, so the sugar rises.
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Surprising Factors That Could Be Spiking Your Blood Pressure
You Take NSAIDs Regularly
The effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can vary from one person to the other.
However, the drugs can cause raised blood pressure levels even in those who are fairly healthy. If you take them regularly, ask your doctor about alternatives.
You Use Decongestants All The Time
Many decongestants contain pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, which narrow the blood vessels. This narrowing can contribute to having high blood pressure. When choosing a decongestant, ask your pharmacist for options that wont affect your blood pressure.
You Have Chronic Pain
As you might expect, experiencing acute pain can cause a temporary spike in your blood pressure. Persons who have chronic pain, on the other hand, may have a more permanent spike to deal with. The best route to relief is managing your pain as well as possible.
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Your Diet Is Lacking Potassium
Maintaining healthy blood pressure requires a balance between sodium and potassium. Even if youve cut down on your salt intake, not getting enough potassium will make it hard to get your blood pressure down. Foods like bananas, broccoli, and spinach are excellent sources of potassium.
You Take Certain Herbal Supplements
You Take A Hormonal Birth Control
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Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes
Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:
- Certain medications or combinations of medications
- Chronic kidney disease
Primary High Blood Pressure
While the specific cause of primary high blood pressure remains unknown, there is compelling evidence to suggest that a number of risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition.
These risk factors include:
- age – the risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you get older
- a family history of high blood pressure – the condition seems to run in families
- being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin
- high-fat diet
- high amount of salt in your diet
- lack of exercise
- excessive alcohol consumption
A number of health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, have also been linked to an increase risk of developing primary high blood pressure.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Treating high blood pressure depends on the severity of your condition.
Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that will help you manage your blood pressure.
At first, you may need to take medications to help lower your blood pressure.
For example, you can take a combination of beta-blockers and diuretics to reduce the amount of sodium and water in your kidneys. This helps your body get rid of extra sodium and water, which can slow the progression of high blood pressure.
Your doctor may also give you a diuretic or beta-blocker to help lower the number of blood vessels that are damaged. This helps your body get rid of extra fluid.
If your blood pressure doesnt respond to these treatments, you may need to take a blood pressure medication that can lower your blood pressure. These medications are called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
Some people may need to take a combination of drugs to treat high blood pressure.