Everything we do in our day-to-day lives can affect our blood pressure, from commuting to work to exercising to not keeping hydrated. Those actions can lead to fluctuations in our blood pressure and they’re often brief, returning back to normal. But regular spikes and dips in blood pressure could be a sign of something more serious, and you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
In this guide, we’ll look at the various causes of fluctuating blood pressure, how to prevent it, and the different treatments available.
Here’s a quick summary of the technical terms used in this guide:
Pheochromocytoma: a rare type of tumour that can grow in the adrenal glands cause excessive excretion of hormones, leading to high blood pressure and other symptoms.
Stress is a way for the body to defend itself when it feels threatened or is confronted with danger.
Chemicals like cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are produced, causing a variety of reactions including increased blood pressure.
However, excessive stress can lead to severe and chronic hypertension if left untreated or unchecked.
Certain foods and drinks can raise blood pressure temporarily such as caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, carbonated beverages like Coca-Cola and Pepsi).
Tyramine, an amino acid found in the body that helps regulate blood pressure, can also be found in some foods, particularly foods that have been cured or pickled, citrus fruits, and alcoholic drinks that have been fermented (e.g. beer and red wine).
Conditions that can cause fluctuations in blood pressure include:
Studies have also shown that hypertension in midlife is associated with an increased risk of developing certain types of dementia or cognitive impairment in later life.
Certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can also increase blood pressure such as:
The right exercise routine can level out blood pressure fluctuations. It’s recommended that people try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity 4-7 days a week.
Read more about exercise and how it can lower your blood pressure in our guide.
Our bodies change constantly as we grow up and grow older. But fluctuations in weight can cause both hypertension (particularly linked to obesity) and hypotension (due to significant and rapid weight loss, known as orthostatic hypotension).
The general advice is to avoid “fad” diets or diet pills that can cause dangerous weight loss and weight gain and put a strain on your heart and body. These behaviours may also cause emotional trauma around body image so it’s important to speak to a doctor if you have any concerns.
Avoid tyramine-rich foods and replace them with low-tyramine foods and drinks such as:
You should speak to a doctor or dietitian regarding cholesterol and calorie intake if they are deemed too high and causing blood pressure issues or related conditions.
There are numerous ways to reduce stress in your life, such as:
For more information, check out our guide to reducing blood pressure.
Monitoring your blood pressure is paramount to maintaining a healthy heart. A blood pressure monitor can:
For advice on finding the right BP monitor for your lifestyle, check our BP monitor buying guide.
The following are some of the general categories of medications used to regulate blood pressure and treat hypertension:
As always, please consult a doctor before taking any blood pressure medication and discuss the various options.
While regulating your blood pressure can be challenging, with multiple contributing factors, the benefits are significant to preventing significant blood-pressure related conditions in the future.
It’s recommended to stay in close contact with your doctor and talk to them about the different preventative measures available to you, including exercise, changes in diet, and stress reduction. And investing in a blood pressure monitor like Aktiia can help keep you and your doctor informed with accurate 24/7 blood pressure readings to inform your treatment plan.