7 Reasons Your Blood Pressure Is Unexpectedly Through the Roof

Even if you’re in tip-top shape, your blood pressure could go from totally normal to sky-high in a matter of minutes. The worst part is, you may have no idea it’s happening. While we know diet and exercise play a role in maintaining consistently normal levels, some people suffer from high blood pressure that seemingly appears out of the blue. A sudden spike could be the result of routine habits or nothing more than a fluke. Whatever the case, it’s time to stop wondering why your otherwise healthy BP levels sometimes reach an all-time high.

Here are seven everyday factors that could be sending your blood pressure through the roof.

1. You hate the doctor’s office

a doctor holding a tablet

Doctor’s office visits can make some people very nervous. | iStock.com

Lots of folks would rather skip their annual visit, but routine exams are part of being a healthy adult. Preventative screenings, ongoing monitoring, and the like are what help keep your body performing at its best. Regardless of the nature of the visit, though, some people experience elevated blood pressure just by walking through the door.

According to research, “White-coat hypertension occurs in 15% to 30% of subjects with an elevated office blood pressure, and the phenomenon is reasonably reproducible.” So, if your chart history shows HBP readings with every visit despite an otherwise healthy lifestlyle, white-coat hypertension with you could be behind it.

What to do about it

Patient reading a magazine in the doctor’s waiting room

Give yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment. | iStock.com/cwzahner

If this happens to you, it’s important to take some preventative measures before stepping foot in the doctor’s office. For instance, give yourself plenty of time to get there so you’re not rushed. Furthermore, ask the nurse or doctor to take your blood pressure at the end of the appointment to help get a more accurate reading. If this is a consistent problem, it might be in your best interest to get an at-home monitor. That way, you can take your blood pressure when you’re totally relaxed, and keep an ongoing log to show your doctor during each visit.

2. You have a full bladder

Young sick woman with hands holding pressing her crotch lower abdomen

Holding it can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. | iStock.com/Anetlanda

Believe it or not, holding your pee can have a negative impact on your blood pressure. Middle-aged women should be particularly conscious of this. In fact, research has found “systolic and diastolic blood pressure is increased by urine-holding at least 3 hours after the last urination in middle aged women.”

What to do about it

Image of young woman sitting on toilet.

Don’t wait to use the bathroom. | iStock.com/vadimguzhva

There’s not too much explaining to do here, except for knowing it’s important to use the bathroom when you need to. Additionally, whenever you’re about to have your blood pressure taken, whether at home or at your doctor’s office, be sure you’ve emptied your bladder prior to being tested.

3. You’re too stressed

nervous stressed young woman

Stress can wreak havoc on your heart health. | iStock.com/SIphotography

As we know, stress plays a major role in raising blood pressure. Whether it be a grueling day at work or ongoing troubles at home, stress requires attention on your part. Much like being in a rush on your way to the doctor’s office, a spike in stress can wreak havoc on your body and mind, which is why it’s crucial to learn proper stress management skills that are right for you.

What to do about it

woman meditating on the beach

Meditation can help keep your blood pressure where it needs to be. | iStock.com/kieferpix

When it comes to diffusing a stressful situation, everyone’s needs are different. According to Harvard Health Publications, there are some methods worth testing out. For instance, learn how to best nurture yourself, such as treating yourself to a massage, taking a nap, or listening to calming music. You can also hone your time management skills, learn relaxation techniques, or work on strengthening your social network.

4. You take certain medications

medicinal tablets with blue container

Every medication comes with side effects, one of which may be increased blood pressure. | iStock.com/LuCaAr

Certain medications — short or long term, prescription or over-the-counter — can impact a person’s blood pressure. For instance, NSAIDS, such as Aleve, Advil, and Motrin, may raise a person’s blood pressure, Mayo Clinic says. And prescription drugs, such as antidepressants and hormonal birth control can also cause a spike.

What to do about it

female doctor writing notes while talking to a patient

Having a serious conversation with your doctor is key. | iStock.com

Before beginning any new medication or treatment plan, it’s imperative to discuss all potential risk factors and side effects with your doctor. Depending on the current state of your overall health, he or she may suggest lifestyle changes, or even an additional medication to counteract the negative side effects of that medication. In turn, this will help in managing your high blood pressure.

5. You drink lots of caffeine

Cups of expresso surrounded by coffee beans

How much coffee do you drink in one day? | iStock.com/loooby

Slamming energy drinks or caffeine-loaded coffee throughout the day will give you more than just the jitters. According to Mayo Clinic, “Caffeine can cause a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure, even if you don’t have high blood pressure.” While the exact cause is unknown, the experts say the sudden spike in blood pressure may be because a hormone that helps keep the arteries widened gets blocked. Additionally, other researchers believe it has to do with how caffeine impacts your adrenal glands.

What to do about it

young woman drinking water

Trading coffee and energy drinks for water is definitely the way to go. | iStock.com/fizkes

The best way to combat the negative effects of caffeine, as you might have guessed, is to avoid it. Instead of grabbing an energy drink when you need an extra boost, get up and go for a walk to get some fresh air. Furthermore, be sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Your body will eventually adjust to less caffeine.

6. You have your period

girl eating in bed

Your period can have a huge impact on your overall health. | iStock.com

Dealing with your period can be unpleasant, given the mood swings, chocolate cravings, and fatigue. And according to Everyday Health, your blood sugar levels can fluctuate during that time of the month, as well. “Fluctuations in hormone levels before and during a woman’s period may trigger temporary insulin resistance, which in turn causes blood sugar levels to shift,” the publication writes. It’s important to keep a watchful eye on this, especially if you’re diabetic.

What to do about it

bowls of nuts, legumes, fruit, and vegeables

You may need to change up your diet during that time of the month. | iStock.com

If you notice any changes in how you feel during your period, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor. Or, if you have an at-home monitor, take your blood pressure and keep a daily log. If you see a spike only during a certain time of the month, it may be time to change up your eating habits and workout regimen.

7. You cross your legs

young woman sitting on floor at home with cell phone

Sitting with your legs crossed could put extra strain on your body. | iStock.com/m-imagephotography

It’s natural for most adults to cross their legs at the knee, especially while trying to switch positions throughout a long day of sitting in an office chair. But be careful, because doing so too often could cause your blood pressure to spike. Although research is somewhat lacking, one small study found blood pressure does increase when legs are crossed.

What to do about it

woman doing glute bridge on a yoga mat

When you need to change positions, give a few yoga poses a try. | iStock.com

When you want to change your sitting position, take to the floor for some yoga stretches, or switch to standing at your desk, if possible. Additionally, when you’re actually getting your blood pressure taken, be sure to keep your legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor. While the nurse should remind you of this, they’re human too, so it’s possible they could forget. Just a good thing to keep in mind the next time you’re getting your vitals taken.

Symptoms of sudden high blood pressure

headache during work at the office

A headache could signal a sudden spike in blood pressure. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

Remember our mention of possible symptoms of sudden high blood pressure? Well, the time has come to give you a rundown of major red flags you definitely shouldn’t ignore. Doctors Health Press says to look out for blurred vision, headache, and weakness or numbness in arms, legs, and face. If you’ve ever experienced similar symptoms, regardless of whether your medical history has ever recorded HBP levels, it’s important to communicate this information with your doctor immediately.