Since high blood pressure may not cause any symptoms, it can be distressing to visit your doctor and obtain a high blood pressure reading. Triggers for high blood pressure may include heart disease, high cholesterol, excessive salt consumption, and smoking. Individuals at risk for high blood pressure include those who are advancing in age, overweight, or have a family history of the condition. In addition to the long-term effects that genetics, smoking, or obesity can have on the heart, there are more temporary conditions that can cause acute increases in your blood pressure.
10. The Need to Pee
You may be surprised to learn that your blood pressure increases when you need to urinate. One study noted a rise in blood pressure in middle-aged women who had gone at least three hours without urinating. Therefore, when visiting your doctor for a checkup, it may be wise to empty your bladder before having your vital signs checked. Additionally, a study in the Journal of Hypertension found that frequently getting up in the night to urinate was linked to a rise in blood pressure.
9. Consuming Added Sugar
You are likely well aware of the risk of high blood pressure due to excessive dietary salt. However, the consumption of excess sugar may also trigger a rise in blood pressure. High fructose corn syrup, in particular, may contribute to an increased risk of high blood pressure. A study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology linked consumption of high fructose corn syrup to elevated blood pressure measurements in healthy adults. Ditch the processed foods with their added sugars and stick to the sweetness of heart-healthy fruits instead.
8. Taking Certain Medications
You may be surprised to learn that the decongestant you take for nasal stuffiness can raise your blood pressure. Decongestants work by constricting your blood vessels to decrease swelling and open your nasal passages. As they narrow your blood vessels, they can raise your blood pressure. Other medications that can affect your blood pressure include antidepressants, birth control pills, and certain herbal supplements. If you have hypertension, check with your physician before taking over-the-counter remedies to make sure they will not affect your blood pressure.
7. Experiencing Dehydration
The dehydration associated with exercise, heat exhaustion, or illness can affect your blood pressure. When your body is low on water, your pituitary gland releases a hormone called vasopressin, which lowers your blood pressure. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, decreased urination, dark urine, dry skin, and dizziness. Take care to keep your body hydrated when engaging in exercise or spending time out in the heat. If you are suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, sip oral rehydration fluids as you are able in order to prevent dehydration.
6. Visiting the Doctor
Simply visiting the doctor’s office can trigger an episode of high blood pressure in some individuals. This circumstance, known as white coat phenomenon, happens when the anxiety or stress of a doctor visit causes a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you suspect high blood pressure readings are triggered by doctor’s office anxiety, try relaxation techniques before your appointment to help calm your nerves. Deep breathing exercises may help you slow your breathing, center your mind, relax, and calm your racing heart.
5. Experiencing Loneliness
A study in Psychology and Aging found that loneliness increased the risk of hypertension in middle-aged and elderly adults independent of other cardiac risk factors. The effects of stress and cortisol levels on the heart can contribute to high blood pressure. Therefore, making time for friends and connecting with family is a heart-healthy pursuit. So, give your mom a call or ask an old friend to meet for coffee. Furthermore, snuggling with loved ones releases oxytocin. This hormone, often called the cuddle hormone, helps you feel content and may also protect your heart.
4. Experiencing Pain
Your body’s reaction to pain includes a spike in your blood pressure. The sympathetic nervous system responds to danger, stress, and pain with a flight or fight response. One byproduct of this response is an increase in blood pressure as your body attempts to combat the effects of pain. Therefore, proper pain management is crucial for protecting your heart as well as keeping you comfortable. Medications are not the only sources of pain relief. Depending on the cause of the pain, ice, heat, elevation, and rest can help provide relief.
3. Suffering from Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is interrupted while sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when tissues in the throat or nasal passageways relax, drop down, and block the airway. Meanwhile, central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the lungs to continue breathing during sleep. In either case, the body may be deprived of necessary oxygen when breathing is interrupted. Then, low levels of oxygen in the blood may trigger the heart to work harder, resulting in increased blood pressure.
Simply engaging in conversation may raise your blood pressure levels. This can be easy to understand if you consider the way you feel when a discussion escalates into an argument. A study in Psychosomatic Medicine suggests that individuals with a higher baseline blood pressure experience greater jumps in blood pressure than those with lower baseline blood pressures. Interestingly, this study reports that some individuals experience an increase in blood pressure of 25 to 40% within 30 seconds of beginning a conversation.
1. Suffering from Certain Medical Conditions
You may realize that diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease are risk factors for hypertension. However, there are other medical conditions that can also contribute to high blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic reports that thyroid issues resulting in either high or low levels of thyroid hormone can cause hypertension. Furthermore, conditions that affect your sodium-potassium balance can affect your blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease, diarrhea, and excessive alcohol use can deplete your potassium levels and cause high blood pressure.