Have you ever been in a situation where your blood pressure suddenly spiked? The symptoms of extremely high blood pressure, such as headaches, may be familiar to those who suffer from high blood pressure. While medications can help keep your blood pressure under control, some actions cause spikes.
Knowing how to immediately lower your blood pressure can help you during these times. But is this possible?
The answer to that is yes, it is possible. Best of all, the tips for getting it down quickly are simple to do. Following these tips, and making the appropriate lifestyle changes, helps you gain better control over your blood pressure and any issues that may arise.
This article will go over factors that can cause your blood pressure to spike, symptoms of severely high blood pressure, ways to lower your blood pressure fast during a spike, and tips for lowering your blood pressure.
What causes blood pressure spikes?
Throughout the day, your blood pressure will naturally fluctuate. Fluctuates that stay within normal range, a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80, aren’t of much concern. But for those with hypertension, these spikes can be a much bigger plight.
Here are some common causes of blood pressure spikes:
Not everyone is sensitive to caffeine, but studies have shown that it can dramatically increase your blood pressure. If you notice any symptoms of your blood pressure rising after consuming products with caffeine, it could be because of a sudden spike. It’s recommended for people with high blood pressure to speak with their doctor about safe caffeine levels.
Stressful situations are unavoidable; that’s part of life. The way your body responds to stressful situations causes a temporary spike in your blood pressure. When you are stressed for a long time, your blood pressure will remain elevated.
Various OTC medications can make your blood pressure suddenly increase. Medicines labeled as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs (ex. Ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, and naproxen), are more likely to raise your blood pressure than any other class of drugs.
Smoking a cigarette can immediately affect your blood pressure. It can increase by up to 10 points an hour after using products with nicotine. If you feel faint or dizzy while smoking, your blood pressure might be spiking.
Many drugs negatively affect your body, but cocaine is one of the worst for your blood pressure. Chemicals like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine increase your heart rate, heart contractions, and blood pressure. All three chemicals are present in cocaine.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
Hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because of the lack of symptoms. This is why a routine doctor visit starts with a blood pressure check.
While high blood pressure is hard to detect without a monitor, during spikes or when it’s severely elevated, there are warning signs you can watch for.
Those symptoms are:
- Severe headaches
- Fatigue or confusion
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pounding in the chest, neck, or ears
This is just a sample of warning signs, but they could also be symptoms of other issues. If you have symptoms you aren’t able to pinpoint the cause of, it’s best to reach out to your doctor and let them know.
If you have high blood pressure and experience any of these symptoms, try the following tips to lower your blood pressure fast, and seek medical attention if your symptoms do not improve.
3 ways to immediately lower your blood pressure
1. Breathing Exercises
There are breathing techniques known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS controls your ability to relax and puts your body in what’s called the “rest and digest” state. By activating this part of the autonomic nervous system, your body relaxes, the heart rate decreases, and in turn, your blood pressure decreases.
Controlled breathing techniques are something you can utilize quickly in situations where your blood pressure is rising.
These two exercises only take 30 seconds each. For the first one, set a timer for 30 seconds and take 6 deep breaths. You can repeat this as many times as needed.
For the second exercise, you inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold the exhale for four seconds, and then repeat.
Another deep breathing technique to try is breathing in through your nose, filling your lungs as much as you can, holding it for 1-2 seconds, and then exhaling through your mouth.
You can do these exercises to control your blood pressure and manage your stress as well.
After using the breathing techniques above to calm your body down, next find a place to relax.
Opposite of the PNS, the sympathetic nervous system handles our “flight or fight” response. Anything that causes stress to the body can activate it. Research shows that an increase in sympathetic activity can increase your blood pressure and keep it elevated.
Relaxing is a way of letting the body know it’s not in danger and there’s no need for the sympathetic nervous system’s response.
For some, being told to relax is easier said than done, but there are ways you can coax your body into a relaxed state. You can start by finding a quiet place to lie down that is comfortable for your body. Stay there for around 10-20 minutes, or until you feel better.
If you find peace being outdoors, find somewhere outside that is relaxing and sit for a while to see if that helps.
Sometimes, finding somewhere to relax isn’t an option, but visualizing a calm environment can be just as impactful. Close your eyes and think about a place where you feel most at peace. Allow your imagination to create the visuals, sounds, and smells of that place. The deeper you get into the visualization, the deeper your relaxation.
3. Take a hot bath or shower
High temperatures in a hot bath or shower cause your blood vessels to dilate. Once the blood vessels dilate, the blood flows through them better, reducing your blood pressure.
As long as you aren’t experiencing symptoms that would make it dangerous to do so, such as dizziness or lightheadedness, this is a great option.
Knowing how to lower your blood pressure in minutes is information everyone can use, whether or not you have hypertension. You never want your blood pressure to stay elevated for a long time because that can cause damage to other vital parts of the body, like your heart.
How to naturally lower your blood pressure over time
As of right now, there’s no permanent cure for high blood pressure, but there are lifestyle changes that can keep it under control. Once these changes become daily habits, you might notice that issues caused by high blood pressure subside.
Here are some changes you can make to lower your blood pressure.
Studies link both sleep deprivation and insomnia to higher risks of hypertension.
When your body doesn’t get a restful night of sleep, it can cause your blood pressure to rise. Those with high blood pressure already could find that not sleeping well makes it worse.
On the contrary, a good night’s sleep lowers your blood pressure. It’s recommended that the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep, but this varies from person to person. Find out how many hours you need to feel fully rested and rejuvenated.
As mentioned earlier in the article, stressful situations can cause spikes in your blood pressure. This is called acute stress because it’s stress brought on by a specific situation.
When this stress lasts for weeks or months at a time, it becomes chronic stress. And as long as you are stressed, your blood pressure is elevated.
So it’s important to remove things in your life that cause you stress. Of course, not everything can be removed – there are some things we have to deal with no matter what. In those situations, learning how to manage your stress is key.
The tips for relaxing are excellent for coping during stressful situations because your body enters flight or fight mode when stressed out. A few minutes each day spent relaxing your body and mind could lower your systolic blood pressure over time.
Better dietary choices
As the age-old saying goes, “you are what you eat”. Your food choices affect your body, and certain foods can either make your blood pressure problems better or worse.
Removing or limiting foods that lead to high blood pressure, or worsen existing conditions, can help improve your health.
A few types of foods known to elevate your blood pressure are:
Foods high in carbs and sugars
The body’s response to excess carbs and sugar causes it to overproduce insulin and leptin. That overproduction causes blood pressure to increase.
Anything with too much sodium
Too much salt, the most common form of sodium found in foods, causes your body to retain water. The extra water puts additional pressure on your blood vessel walls, which raises your BP.
Processed and prepackaged foods
Most people know processed foods aren’t the healthiest option. Those with hypertension or anyone wanting to manage their blood pressure should limit their consumption of these.
Packaged foods normally contain higher amounts of sugar, salt, and calories because of how they are prepared. Trans fat, which is used to increase shelf life and stability, also increases the risk of high blood pressure.
Instead of foods that increase your blood pressure, aim for potassium-rich fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, which help lower it.
Exercise is a part of life that’s vital to maintaining your health and well-being. Physical activity benefits your body in so many ways.
When it comes to lowering your blood pressure, exercise helps by increasing your heart strength. The stronger your heart, the less effort it needs to pump blood through your body.
Simple exercises like walking and cycling reduce blood vessel stiffness so the blood can flow easier. Anything you can do to improve your overall fitness will help in lowering your blood pressure as your body becomes stronger.
Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake
Both smoking and drinking cause your blood vessels to constrict. This makes them more narrow, making it harder for the blood to flow through them. They also cause your heart to beat faster. When you have high blood pressure, it can affect you even more.
Temporary spikes from short-term use of tobacco products and alcohol decrease over time, but long-term use can put a strain on your heart and make hypertension worse.
There are resources online that can help you break free from either of these habits if you have trouble doing so.
High blood pressure is a common disease that can lead to many different cardiovascular issues if it’s not controlled.
Whether or not you have high blood pressure, you can experience sudden increased blood pressure. Though there generally aren’t any symptoms when your blood pressure is high, some warning signs might appear during these spikes or if it’s reaching dangerously high levels.
Symptoms such as faintness, trouble breathing, or severe headaches can all indicate that your blood pressure is rising.
If you are in a situation and you think you’re experiencing elevated levels, there are ways to get your blood pressure down fast. Try some of the breathing techniques listed, laying down to rest, or taking a warm bath.
If the symptoms persist, please reach out for medical assistance. Your blood pressure could be extremely high to where it’s unsafe, or there could be other underlying issues.
Even though these tricks can help you at a moment’s notice, it’s best to focus on lifestyle changes that will help you consistently control your blood pressure.
With time, making improvements to the foods you eat, figuring out an exercise routine that works for you, and reducing stress can help your blood pressure.
The healthier you are, the better your body can handle its responsibilities.