Understanding Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a measure of the force that your blood exerts against the walls of your blood vessels. High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined for adults as 130/80 (130 over 80) or higher — meaning 130 millimeters of mercury per deciliter of blood (mm/Hg) for the systolic pressure (the upper number) and 80 mm/Hg or higher for the diastolic pressure (lower number).
Eight Factors that can Sneakily Affect Blood Pressure
A diet loaded with salt can spike your blood pressure. It recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams a day for most adults.
Stress and how you cope with it can affect your blood pressure to a degree. Stress is also linked to anxiety and depression, both of which can cause blood pressure spikes in the short- and possibly long-term. Stress is a fact of life. That can't be changed. Study suggests exercising three to five times a week for 30 minutes to reduce stress. Regular exercise also can aid weight loss, which lowers blood pressure and heart risks. It's a win-win.
If you have high blood pressure, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and decongestants can raise your blood pressure by 4 to 10 millimeters of mercury or higher. Certain high blood pressure drugs can block the effects that these other medications have on your blood pressure.
Potassium and magnesium levels
Potassium and magnesium help regulate your blood pressure. If your levels are too low, it could cause your blood pressure to rise. Your doctor can order a blood test to see where you stand. If your potassium levels are low, eating higher potassium-containing foods, like fruits and veggies, may help. Magnesium can be found in dark, leafy green vegetables, unrefined grains and legumes.
If you are scared of seeing the doctor, you may develop "white coat hypertension," the name for a blood pressure spike seen only at the doctor's office. If this is the case, the American Heart Association suggests home blood pressure monitoring.
Shift workers who typically work nights are four times more likely to develop high blood pressure than their counterparts who don't work night shifts. If your work schedule is affecting your health, talk to your supervisor.
AlcoholAlcohol can cause fluctuations in blood pressure. Study suggests capping alcohol consumption at no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink a day for women.
Your daily cup of coffee may affect your blood pressure, the Mayo Clinic notes. Keep your numbers in the safe range by limiting your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams a day.
How can I mess up my blood pressure?
Alcohol, Caffeine, and Tobacco
Consumption of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco cause your blood pressure to immediately rise. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking at least 30 minutes before your blood pressure test to ensure an accurate measurement.