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Why Does Blood Pressure Fluctuate Wildly

Potential Danger Of Fluctuating Blood Pressure

Why Does Blood Pressure Fluctuate?

A recent cohort study of 1,000 Chinese men and women suggested that fluctuating blood pressure in the elderly between doctors visits can lead to decreased functioning of the brain. Findings were based on the China Health and Nutrition Survey, and followed 976 older adults who had three or more visits with blood pressure measurements from 1991 up to their first cognitive tests, and completed follow up cognitive tests at two or more visits in 1997, 2000, or 2004.

Researchers note that more studies and clinical trials need to be done, but early findings showed an association between higher long-term blood pressure fluctuations and faster rates of cognitive decline.

Controlling BP instability could possibly be a strategy in preserving cognitive function among older adults, researchers wrote in the study published in the journal Hypertension by the American Heart Association.

What Can Cause Fluctuating Blood Pressure

1. Food Sensitivities

Some people will have changing blood pressure due to being sensitive to certain foods. In most cases, the blood pressure would dramatically rise after eating a trigger food. This is particularly common for those with salt sensitivities after taking very salty meals. Usually, this can return to normal for a while. Yet, you many need to make some diet changes, if such swings in pressure occur frequently.

2. Stress

When we are stressed, our bodies increase blood sugar, blood pressure, respiration rate, and heart rate. In a stressful situation, peripheral arteries constrict, making the heart work harder to get oxygenated blood throughout tissues in the body. Occasional stress isn’t typically a concern but frequently experiencing it can cause chronic fluctuations in blood pressure which may be harmful.

3. Caffeine Consumption

As a stimulant, coffee produces a temporary rise in blood pressure. Drinking three or four cups may increase your blood pressure 4 to 13 mmHg. If you don’t regularly have caffeine, you may notice more significant fluctuations. Experts don’t know why caffeine increases blood pressure but think it may be due to constriction of blood vessels.

4. Medications

Certain medications, including over-the-counter ones, may lead to temporary elevations in blood pressure. These include anti-inflammatory meds, decongestants, and acetaminophen. You can experience worse fluctuations from illegal street drugs, leading to life-threatening situations.

What Is Normal High And Low Blood Pressure

There is a range of blood pressure that is considered normal. If your blood pressure goes too high or too low, it can be a sign of a health issue.

You may feel the effects of this change, or it may not show any symptoms. The systolic and diastolic blood pressure is measured in mmHg. The blood pressure is usually reported as one number over the other.

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How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure Effectively

When taking your own blood pressure, its important to take it the right way to get accurate results. When and how you take your own BP can affect your results. Blood-pressure monitoring tips include:

  • Take it easy before taking your BP. Rest for at least five minutes before your first measurement. Dont smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise for 30 minutes before taking your BP. Dont talk while taking your BP.
  • Take your BP with an empty bladder.
  • Sit correctly. Sit with your back straight and well-supported make sure not to cross your legs and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Position your arm correctly. Keep your upper arm at heart level. The way to do this will be a little different depending on whether youre using a wrist or upper-arm monitor, so follow the instructions for your device. Dont place blood pressure cuffs over your sleeves
  • Measure at the same time every day. Many doctors will recommend taking your BP in the morning and evening. Dont take your BP right after you wake up.
  • Take more than one reading and track your results. Take two or three readings about one minute apart. Some OMRON devices do this automatically and then give you an average of your readings. Take your monitor with you to doctor appointments. Some monitors called, wireless or connected, will allow you to store, track and share your results with your doctor from your mobile device.

Is It Normal For Blood Pressure To Fluctuate

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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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What About The Glycemic Index

Your daily carb total, spread steadily across the day, is one key to good blood sugar control. Some people also use the glycemic index , a rating of how individual foods raise blood sugar levels. Beans and whole-grain breads and cereals have a lower GI than white bread and regular pasta. Juice has a higher GI than whole fruit. Craving a high-GI food? Eat it along with a lower-GI choice to help control your levels.

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Blood Pressure Fluctuates Throughout The Day

This graph shows blood pressure changes in a 73-year-old woman over a 24-hour period. They were recorded using an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, a technology clinicians use to investigate possible cardiovascular problems. A spike in the woman’s blood pressure at her clinician’s office in the morning suggests she may have white-coat hypertension. Her average blood pressure was 141/77.

In adults, hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure of 140 or greater or a diastolic pressure of 90 or greater . Another 60 million American adults have prehypertension . Home blood pressure monitoring could help clarify their situation and establish the need for treatment, according to the new advisory statement.

Blood pressure category


There’s no cure for hypertension, but it can be managed with lifestyle changes and often with medications. Blood pressure is a key consideration in making such treatment decisions. Defining the goal as blood pressure below 135/85 or below 130/80 for people with diabetes or kidney disease the AHA/ASH/PCNA made the following recommendations:

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Can A Concussion Cause A Flushed Face

Yes, a concussion can cause a flushed face. What we call a blush is actually vasodilation just beneath facial skin. Some patients have a flushed face when the ANS mistakenly dilates those blood vessels.

You might see other skin changes . It might even cause rashes. One of our patients would get a large patch of flushed skin from the shoulder through the chest whenever their dysautonomia symptoms were about to increase.

What Is Blood Pressure

What is more dangerous, high or fluctuating blood pressure?

Our powerful heart can pump about five liters of blood per minute. Blood pressure is the amount of force the blood puts on our blood vessel walls. The two numbers in a blood pressure reading measure the force as the heart contracts and the force when the heart relaxes . By monitoring these figures, we can prevent serious health issues.

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How To Check Your Blood Pressure At Home

The process of taking your BP at home is pretty simple once youve done it a couple of times, but to make things even easier, and to supply a visual, weve put together a short how-to video, which you can watch here.

The first time you sit down to take your own BP, even in the comfort of your own home, the numbers you get might be higher than normal. But once you get in the routine of doing it every day ideally at the same time and before taking any medication, making it sort of a ritual then youll get used to it, and the numbers you record will reflect whats really going on with your BP.

The video emphasizes tips for getting an accurate reading, but in a nutshell they include:

Find a quiet place to sit with your back supported and your feet flat on the floor

Wear the cuff on your nondominant arm and use an automatic arm cuff

Rest your arm at heart level and relax for about five minutes before measuring

Dont talk or check your cellphone or anything else just relax

Save the numbers to your blood pressure log

Dont skip a session

Which Arm Is More Accurate For Bp

Higher pressures are more frequent in the right arm and range in most individuals from 10 to 20 mmHg or greater in systole, and to a similar extent but less often in diastole. A BP difference between the left and right armseven when largeis statistically a normal variant and need not necessarily cause concern.

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American Heart Association News Stories

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HEALTH CARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediately.

Upswing: Steroids And Water Pills

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People take corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to treat rashes, arthritis, asthma, and many other conditions. But they can boost your blood sugar, and may even trigger diabetes in some people. Diuretics that help high blood pressure, also called water pills, can do the same. Some antidepressants also raise or lower blood sugar.

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Why Is My Blood Pressure Fluctuating Wildly

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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

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Home Truths About High Blood Pressure

It was on a routine visit to the doctor that my GP uttered the phrase every middle-aged man dreads: “Your blood pressure is a little raised.” In fact my BP was 150/95mm Hg, well above the current “risk” threshold that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence deems acceptable.

My elevated reading came as a shock, not least because I had always assumed I was in a low-risk group for stroke and heart disease: I don’t smoke, I’m not overweight, I exercise regularly, and I eat plenty of green vegetables. Indeed, until my mid-40s my BP had always hovered around 120/80, which used to be considered perfect . Now, all of a sudden at the age of 47, I was being diagnosed with stage one hypertension and being assessed for a course of blood pressure reducing medications .

According to Professor Graham MacGregor, the chairman of the Blood Pressure Association and professor of cardiovascular medicine at Barts and the London School of Medicine, I’m one of the “lucky” ones. Hypertension affects a quarter of the British adult population and accounts for 60% of all strokes in the UK and half of all heart attacks, but because the condition is usually symptomless most people have no idea they are at risk until it is too late. “Hypertension is a silent killer,” says MacGregor. “You’re bloody lucky to have discovered it at an early age and been given the opportunity to do something about it.”

What Is Normal Blood Pressure

Is Fluctuating Blood Pressure More Dangerous Than High Blood Pressure?

Experts agree that a healthy adult should have a blood pressure of less than 120 mmHg for their systolic pressure and under 80 mmHg for diastolic pressure. While people’s blood pressure can change minute by minute, you need to chart the blood pressure over a period of time if you want to get an accurate evaluation of your blood and heart health.

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Experts Call For Home Blood Pressure Monitoring

About 73 million Americans nearly half of them women have hypertension , a condition that propels blood too forcefully through blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney damage. If you have hypertension or borderline hypertension, you should be checking your blood pressure at home on a regular basis. That’s the major recommendation in a joint statement from the American Heart Association , the American Society of Hypertension , and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association .

The expert panel that issued the statement was chaired by Dr. Thomas G. Pickering of Columbia University. The statement itself was jointly published online May 22, 2008, in the journal Hypertension and the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing and in print in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension and the Journal of Clinical Hypertension . Although other guidelines on managing hypertension have endorsed home blood pressure monitoring, this is the first time experts have given detailed advice about its use.

White Coat And Masked Hypertension

It’s important to distinguish fluctuating blood pressures from two phenomena known as white-coat hypertension and masked hypertension.

In the phenomenon of white coat hypertension, a person’s blood pressure is considered to be “high” at a healthcare provider’s office, but normal when at home. This high blood pressure is attributed to the stress of being in a healthcare provider’s office, which is why a nurse will often wait for a person to rest comfortably for five minutes before taking a read.

In addition, it’s also recommended that two blood pressure reads are taken and repeated if there is a difference of more than 5 millimeters of mercury .

Masked hypertension is the opposite and occurs when healthcare provider’s visit blood pressures are normal but out of the healthcare provider’s office, reads are high.

To sort these issues out, a healthcare provider may recommend home monitoring or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. Home monitoring may also be recommended for:

  • Persistent high blood pressure readings despite increasing medications
  • Low blood pressure readings while taking high blood pressure medications

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Roller Coaster: Female Hormones

When a woman’s hormones change, so does their blood sugar. Keep a monthly record of your levels to get a better idea of how your menstrual cycle affects you. Hormone changes during menopause may make blood sugar even harder to control. Talk to your doctor about whether hormone replacement therapy is a good idea.

Fluctuating Blood Pressure After Stroke Could Mean Higher Risk Of Death

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Experts already know there’s a link between high blood pressure and stroke, but a growing body of research suggests yo-yoing blood pressure also might play a role.

A new study, presented this week at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Honolulu, delved deeper into the topic by researching whether increased blood pressure variability after a stroke is associated with risk of death.

Researchers looked at data from 1,947 patients who had four to five blood pressure readings in the 24 hours after a stroke. After adjusting for various factors, they found that patients with more variation in their systolic blood pressure, the top number in the measurement, had a higher risk of death within 90 days.

Dr. Adam de Havenon, the study’s lead author, said the results reinforce the importance of blood pressure variability as a risk factor for poor outcomes after a stroke.

“It’s a fertile topic that’s gaining attention, and I would argue that we need to pay even more attention to it,” said de Havenon, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City.

De Havenon said blood pressure variability in stroke patients might be easily treated with calcium channel blockers a blood pressure drug that decreases variability instead of using beta-blockers, which increase variability.

He said he asks some of his patients to measure and record their blood pressure at home at various times during the day.

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Can A Concussion Cause Low Or High Blood Pressure

Yes. Dysautonomia could drive blood pressure up or down after a concussion. One of our patients had a healthy average blood pressure that doubled after a head injury. Another had hypertension before injury that dropped to a normal range after the injury. Some see an increase or decrease only in their systolic reading, some in diastolic, some in both.

Weve even seen patients with different blood pressure readings on each half of their bodies!

In addition, low or high blood pressure is often situational. Some patients present with post-concussion exercise intolerance that results from dysfunctional blood pressure homeostasis and other symptoms and changes that come with the injury.

For example, maybe you try to go for a run, which requires an increase in blood pressure to push oxygen-rich blood through the body. It doesn’t come, and then you feel awful. Or, perhaps you try to exercise, only to find your blood pressure dropping in response, causing a pounding headache, dizziness, and nausea.

Both concussion and severe TBI patients may have blood pressure changes immediately after injury. Its clear that hypotension following injury worsens patient outcomes if untreated, but its unclear whether hypertension is good or bad immediately following injury. In either case, make sure you see a doctor immediately if you injure your head and notice a sudden change in your blood pressure.


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