Photo: Steven Pisano
Everyone experiences fluctuating blood pressure to some degree, but if it happens at TOO HIGH of levels then it can be dangerous and can negatively effect your health. No matter what your age, young or old, big swings in your blood pressure should are an indicator of an imbalance and are not to be taken lightly. It’s your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the blood vessel wall.
Your blood pressure may change for various reasons. It could simply be from standing up too fast (raises BP), what you have or have not eaten (high salt and low potassium lead to high BP), and even time of day can be a significant enough factor. In addition, there are many external factors tat can play a role such as family history, age, and race. Also, African Americans, on average, have a higher rate of high blood pressure than any other race.
If you already have “high blood pressure”, however, and your blood pressure goes even higher, things can get dangerous. This is especially true if the diastolic pressure is above 90 (stage 1 high blood pressure is 140 systolic over 90 diastolic). When this is the case – sitting down and resting, relaxing, and drinking lots of water may help lower your blood pressure in the short term. But if your blood pressure gets any higher than 90 or doesn’t significantly improve, you may want to see your doctor.
Your doctor will check your blood pressure and recommend a diet approach to stop hypertension (High Blood Pressure) or treat hypotension (low blood pressure) — depending on it’s cause. They will probably monitor your blood pressure to see what times of the day it is the highest, and may even give you medication that lasts less than 24 hours. But again, this is a short term fix.
Generally speaking, there is not too much a doctor can do for high blood pressure other than give you medicine. Ultimately it is up to you to take care of yourself by eating well and maintaining a good level of exercise.
Incidence of Fluctuating Blood Pressure
If you have fluctuating blood pressure that means your blood pressure frequently changes from high to low. The good news is, unless your low blood pressure is caused by any of the three “external factors” below, you only need to be concerned about high blood pressure; low blood pressure in a healthy individual does not cause problems and does not require treatment.
Low blood pressure
You should know that there are three “externally caused” types of low blood pressure. Severe hypotension, Orthostatic, and Neurally mediated hypotension (NMH). If you have severe hypotension (caused by shock, sudden loss of blood, infection, severe allergic reaction) – you need to go to the ER (medical emergency!). If you have Orthostatic, that generally is caused by a medication you may be taking. In this case, consult with your doctor about the possibility of changing your dosage (do not do this on your own). Last, in the case of NMH… some solutions are: not standing for long periods, increasing salt intake, and drinking plenty of water. Read more about what does low blood pressure mean?
Home Treatments for High Blood Pressure
Here are the best things you can do to treat high blood pressure:
- Modify your diet to reduce salt, and increase potassium
- Increase activity levels
- Reduce Stress
- Quit Smoking
- Get a blood pressure machine so you can continuously monitor your blood pressure
Modifying your diet
Salt is a well known factor in high blood pressure. By reducing salt intake, you can greatly reduce your high blood pressure levels. Likewise, increasing potassium is another -even better- solution to reduce high blood pressure. (Interestingly enough, bananas aren’t the best place for getting more potassium in your diet).
Losing weight can help you control high blood pressure. And we all know that by far the #1 best way to lose weight is to eat healthy.
Get Some Exercise
Exercising regularly can lower your blood pressure, and has a number of other healthy benefits.
People who are high-stressed, fidgety, nervous, or just plain “on edge” are frequently known to exhibit signs and symptoms of high blood pressure. Things like meditation, yoga, listening to music, exercising, and general stress elimination can do wonders for your HBP.
There are a million and one reasons to quit smoking, and hypertension is one of them. Smoking damages blood vessels, and worsens the effects of high blood pressure on an individual. Quit today. Quit yesterday. Quit last year.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure
If you are monitoring your own blood pressure, then make sure you check your blood pressure in the morning after you wake up, and then any time you eat. Some of the foods you are eating might have something to do with your blood pressure and could be a sign of an underlying disease such as diabetes. Again, make sure you see a doctor if you are experiencing very high levels of blood pressure because high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or other serious problems.