What Causes Fluctuating Blood Pressure?

Helena Reimer

Normal fluctuations in blood pressure take place throughout the day. For example, exercise causes a healthy increase in blood pressure, whereas relaxing will cause it to fall. In addition, diet and other environmental factors such as temperature can cause fluctuations in blood pressure. These mild fluctuations do not present any concern. If blood pressure remains abnormally high or low for long periods of time however, then underlying causes and possible treatment must be pursued.

Exercising, eating, and relaxing can all cause a person's blood pressure to fluctuate.
Exercising, eating, and relaxing can all cause a person's blood pressure to fluctuate.

A normal blood pressure level is somewhere between 90 over 60 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) to 119 over 79 mmHg. Some people tend to have a lower blood pressure in the morning, which peaks in the afternoon. Others are the opposite and will have a higher blood pressure in the morning, which is known as morning hypertension and can fluctuate throughout the day.

Thicker blood with more red blood cells causes higher blood pressure.
Thicker blood with more red blood cells causes higher blood pressure.

Chronic high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is believed to be caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. Those with family members who suffer from the condition may be at greater risk. Factors such as smoking, drinking, high salt consumption, being overweight, stress and sedentary lifestyle may trigger and exacerbate the condition. Hypertension can in turn increase the risk of other cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

Smoking and consuming excess amounts of alcohol can contribute to chronic high blood pressure.
Smoking and consuming excess amounts of alcohol can contribute to chronic high blood pressure.

Understanding the causes of fluctuating and abnormal blood pressure levels can be difficult as it can be impacted by various interacting systems of the body. The following examples can however help to explain some of the possible causes and interactions. Consuming a high sodium diet for example, can lead to prolonged high blood pressure because sodium requires extra fluids. The extra fluids increase the volume of blood, resulting in higher blood pressure.

A salty diet can cause high blood pressure.
A salty diet can cause high blood pressure.

Underlying health conditions may also cause abnormal blood pressure. Individuals who experience problems with their kidneys will most likely experience blood pressure fluctuations. If the kidneys function less than optimum for example, the increase in fluid volume will cause increase in blood pressure. Other medical conditions that result in excess bleeding, heart disease and infection can also result in fluctuating blood pressure levels. Endocrine disorders that disrupt hormone levels can yet be another cause.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is diagnosed when blood pressure readings regularly exceed 140 over 90.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is diagnosed when blood pressure readings regularly exceed 140 over 90.

Fluctuating blood pressure symptoms should not be ignored because an unstable blood pressure can cause serious damage to the body and mind. Symptoms of high blood pressure include headaches, confusion, and vision problems. Symptoms of low blood pressure are weakness, dizziness, and feeling faint. Blood pressure levels can be monitored at the doctor's office, at most pharmacies, as well as at home. Due to the fluctuating blood pressure levels throughout the day, the tests should be performed at the same time each day to get the best results.

Exercising regularly may help treat hypertension problems.
Exercising regularly may help treat hypertension problems.
An individual suffering from an eating disorder may experience low blood pressure.
An individual suffering from an eating disorder may experience low blood pressure.
Taking blood pressure medications before bed may cause better blood pressure control overall.
Taking blood pressure medications before bed may cause better blood pressure control overall.
Individuals who are overweight have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
Individuals who are overweight have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
Generally, doctors recommend resting blood pressure levels be below 120/80.
Generally, doctors recommend resting blood pressure levels be below 120/80.
In many cases, hypertension is triggered by obesity, stress and a lack of exercise.
In many cases, hypertension is triggered by obesity, stress and a lack of exercise.

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Discussion Comments

Heavanet

Blood pressure fluctuates in everyone throughout the day, depending on activity and health conditions. Though there are specific guidelines as to what is too high, the ideal blood pressure varies from person to person. Monitor your blood pressure for a while to get an average reading, and check with your doctor to see what is the best blood pressure reading for you.

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