high blood pressure


Extreme Ups and Downs: What You Need to Know About 'Erratic Blood Pressure'

Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute

It is normal for a person’s blood pressure to fluctuate somewhat throughout the day, depending on various factors that include physical activity, emotions, stress, respiratory cycles, and sleep deprivation. And even dietary factors play a role, such as salt intake and alcohol ingestion.

“Erratic blood pressure” is a medical condition marked by blood pressure fluctuations that are unpredictable or don’t have an obvious cause. And they are extreme – unlike normal fluctuations, explains Adedapo Adeyinka Iluyomade, M.D., preventive cardiologist with Baptist Health Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute.

“An individual with erratic blood pressure might have elevated blood pressure at one moment, but then have it drop to a considerably lower level within minutes or hours, without following any discernible pattern or having an apparent cause,” said Dr. Iluyomade.

Adedapo Iluyomade, M.D., preventive cardiologist at Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute.

Everyone should know their blood pressure because high blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage and weaken arteries, raising the risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious health problems. The condition can develop slowly over time and can be related to more than one underlying cause. Many people are also unaware that high blood pressure can be managed effectively through lifestyle changes, including proper nutrition, weight management and regular exercise.

When blood pressure is marked by the measurements regularly dropping too low (lower than 90/60 mmHg), this is sometimes known as orthostatic or postural hypotension. When the measurements frequently spike too high (higher than 140/90 mmHg), it is known as labile hypertension.

Few people with blood pressure issues experience symptoms as a result of their condition.

“For these people, the only sign of erratic blood pressure comes from their unpredictable blood pressure readings,´ said Dr. Iluyomade. “That’s why blood pressure conditions have earned the nickname the ‘silent killers. Everyone should be aware of their blood pressure readings. And if they are vulnerable to erratic blood pressure, they can monitor the condition by taking their blood pressure at home after consulting with their doctor.”

The symptoms of erratic blood pressure are the same as those linked to low blood pressure, or hypotension, and high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to Dr. Iluyomade.

These symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Facial flushing or sweating
  • General feeling of sickness or unease
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Nosebleeds or buzzing in ears
  • Severe headaches, mental fog, or confusion

“Erratic blood pressure can increase an individual’s risk for a number of serious health conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and other cardiovascular complications,” said Dr. Iluyomade.

For some people, dietary habits or alcohol consumption can affect blood pressure. To prevent high blood pressure, the recommendations are: eating a well-balanced diet that's low in salt, limiting alcohol consumption, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, managing stress and taking any medication as prescribed for hypertension.

Some patients with high blood pressure don’t fully understand the importance of lifestyle choices when it comes to controlling hypertension.

“Consuming excessive amounts of salt or spicy ingredients can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure in some individuals,” says Dr. Iluyomade. “Salt causes the body to retain more fluid, which adds extra volume to your blood. Eating spicy foods can temporarily increase blood pressure by causing individuals to flush, which can increase heart rate. “Drinking alcohol can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, while chronic heavy drinking can lead to sustained high blood pressure.”

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