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 affect your health.
No matter what your age, young or old, big swings in your blood pressure 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, so listen.
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, raising blood pressure (BP)
- what you have or have not eaten (high salt and low potassium may lead to high BP)
- 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 risk of high blood pressure than any other race.
If you already have high blood pressure, however, and your blood pressure elevates 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 should see your doctor.
Your doctor will check your blood pressure and recommend a diet approach to stop hypertension (high BP) or treat hypotension (low BP), depending on the cause. They may also ask you to monitor your blood pressure to see what times of the day it is the highest, and also 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 recommend that you take better care of yourself.
Ultimately, you are responsible for eating well and regularly getting a good level of exercise and conditioning each week, both things that can help you maintain normal blood pressure.
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 you have one of the the three “dangerous” types of low blood pressure below, you only need to be concerned about high blood pressure.
Low blood pressure in a healthy individual, in most cases, does not cause problems and does not require treatment.
The 3 “Potentially Dangerous” Types of Low Blood Pressure
There are three externally caused types of low blood pressure:
- Severe hypotension
- 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!) right away.
For Orthostatic, that is generally 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: this is usually caused by long periods of standing. It can also occur from a deeply upsetting, unpleasant, or scary experience. Prevention and remedies for NMH include not standing for long periods, increasing salt intake, and drinking plenty of water.
Read more about what does low blood pressure mean?
Home Remedies 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
1. Modify 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.
2. Get Some Exercise
Exercising regularly can help lower your blood pressure, and has a number of other healthy benefits.
3. Reduce Stress
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.
4. Quit Smoking
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.
5. 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.
Wrap Up: Fluctuating Blood Pressure
Fluctuating pressure, for the most part, is nothing to be too concerned about. It is quite normal for you blood pressure to change throughout the day. Only in cases of extreme swings, or high-highs or low-lows should you seek help and natural solutions.
Also, if you’ve had issues with blood pressure in the past, getting yourself a blood pressure monitor is a good idea. That way you can see during what times of the day are you high or low in blood pressure, and you can even better pinpoint specific environmental causes to your fluctuations.