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Causes of Blood Pressure Spikes

Sudden rise in headaches

Blood pressure is a measure of the force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body. When you have high blood pressure, it means your heart is using more force - which is not good for it. A heart that consistently exerts a lot of force when you’re at rest will be prone to all sorts of cardiovascular problems. 

When you get your blood pressure taken, it is taken when you are supposed to be relaxed. This is important because your blood pressure can spike during the day for many different reasons. Blood pressure spiking is perfectly normal in most cases and shouldn’t be worried about. The problem is when your blood pressure spikes and stays at that level even when you’re resting. 

So, what causes blood pressure to spike throughout the day? Here are some common reasons: 

#1 Stress

When you are stressed, your heartbeat can increase and your blood pressure will rise. This is very normal and nothing to be too worried about if it happens sporadically. Chronic stress is a bigger problem as it means your blood pressure is constantly elevated. 


#2 Caffeine

Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages can cause spikes in blood pressure. Nobody really knows why, but some studies suggest that caffeine suppresses hormones that widen your blood vessels, causing them to constrict. In turn, this increases the demand on your heart to pump blood through your body, which causes sudden high blood pressure spiking. 


#3 Tyramine

Tyramine is found in a lot of foods as it is an amino acid that also occurs in your body. Studies have shown that tyramine can trigger nerve cells to release a hormone that increases blood pressure and heart rate. This amino acid is commonly found in cheese and cured meats, and the effects are worse if you take MAOIs for depression. 


#4 Medication

Some medications cause blood pressure spiking because of how they interact with the body. Even decongestants for your nose or anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to suddenly raise blood pressure levels throughout the day. It is important to consult with a medical professional before taking any medication to assess if it will lead to blood pressure spiking or not. 


#5 Anxiety

It is common for some people to see a spike in blood pressure readings while having their blood pressure taken in a doctor’s office. If you were to do it at home, there’s a chance your readings will be lower. This is because anxiety kicks in in a medical environment, making your heart rate increase and boosting your blood pressure. The same effect can occur at any point in your life when you feel anxious about something. 


#6 Smoking

What would cause a spike in blood pressure at a moment’s notice? Smoking, that’s what. Having one cigarette can instantly raise your blood pressure because of things like nicotine and other chemicals. Even worse, consistently smoking will definitely lead to hypertension. 


#7 Recreational Drugs

Using drugs for recreational purposes has been linked to raising blood pressure dramatically. Most notably, cocaine will speed up your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels, putting your heart under more pressure to pump blood through your body. Thus, expect a spike in blood pressure when taking this drug. 


#8 Adrenal Glands

Your adrenal glands are located on top of both kidneys and produce many hormones to help your body regulate different processes. Some of the hormones created will help with blood pressure levels. If you have overactive adrenal glands, there’s a high chance you will see blood pressure spikes on a regular basis, due to extra hormone secretion. 


#9 Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD can elevate your blood pressure levels because your kidneys play such a vital role in keeping blood pressure in check. CKD stops your kidneys from working correctly, which inhibits their ability to maintain blood pressure levels in your blood. Thus, blood pressure spikes can be expected. 


#10 Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that can temporarily stop you from breathing while you sleep. One form of this disorder - obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - has a direct link to high blood pressure. When you sleep, blood pressure is supposed to naturally decrease. Unfortunately, patients with OSA don’t see this, causing blood pressure to stay at an unnaturally high level during sleep. If OSA goes untreated, it can lead to hypertension. 


Now you know what causes blood pressure to spike during the day or at any point in your life. There’s nothing wrong with your blood pressure spiking now and then - it is a normal reaction to certain things in your life. But, if you constantly see spikes in blood pressure, this is when you should worry. Make changes to ensure the spikes are less common, so you can avoid hypertension and heart problems. 

If you have questions regarding your blood pressure readings, make an appointment with Kidney360 specialists serving Houston, TX and all the surrounding areas today.

Uday Khosla, MD Uday Khosla, MD Uday M. Khosla, MD, is board certified in nephrology and hypertension and has served as a Houston kidney consultant since 2004. He currently practices as a renal specialist at Kidney360 - a nephrology practice located in Houston, TX serving the greater Katy, Sugar Land, Channelview, Pearland, Montrose, Downtown Houston, and Spring areas. Dr. Khosla is available as a kidney consultant in various settings, including in-hospital, outpatient clinics, outpatient dialysis, and home care.

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