Top 10 Causes for Blood Pressure Spikes

A man taking his own blood pressure reason to find the cause of a sudden blood pressure spike

With about 32% of Americans living with high blood pressure, it’s no wonder why blood pressure checks are administered at every doctor’s appointment. So many high blood pressure cases are not realized because high blood pressure doesn’t exhibit any symptoms. 

The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure measured. If your blood pressure is normal (less than 120/80 mm Hg), you will likely only need to check on it annually at your yearly checkups. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend that you monitor your blood pressure at home in addition to lifestyle changes or medications. While your blood pressure levels naturally rise and fall throughout the day, there are some factors that may cause sudden blood pressure spikes.

Causes of Blood Pressure Spikes

1. Caffeine

Even if you have normal blood pressure readings, caffeine consumption can cause a temporary but dramatic blood pressure spike. While researchers aren’t sure what the reason behind the increase in blood pressure, if you have high blood pressure you should talk to your doctor about whether you should limit or avoid caffeinated substances, and you should avoid consuming caffeine before exercising or weightlifting. 

2. Certain Medications 

If you have high blood pressure you should be extra cautious when it comes to your medications. Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, medication combinations, or even over the counter cold medicines that contain decongestants can cause an increase in blood pressure that may be dangerous for those with high blood pressure

3. Consumption of Foods Containing Tyramine

Tyramine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in your body and is also found in certain foods. Consuming too much tyramine, which is found in aged cheese as well as smoked, processed or cured meats, can cause a sudden blood pressure spike, especially if you’re taking a MAOI for depression.

4. Smoking

Smoking even one cigarette can cause an immediate 5 to 10 mm Hg rise in blood pressure. While this effect is temporary, the effect of cigarette use can have detrimental effects on your heart health over time due to the prolonged damage to your artery walls.

5. Stress

Stress is a common, and often unavoidable cause of temporary blood pressure spikes. If your stress becomes a long term problem, it may lead to permanent blood pressure problems. 

6. Anxiety

In the past, we have touched on the effects of white coat hypertension, in which blood pressure readings are higher in a doctor’s office than they are in other environments, like at home or at work. When anxiety causes a spike in blood pressure in the doctor’s office, it’s likely that it will cause an increase in blood pressure in other situations as well, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about possible treatment options to avoid a more sustained version of high blood pressure.

7. Overactive Adrenal Gland

Overactive adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of certain hormones that help the body manage sodium and water and can lead to increases in blood pressure. 

8. Drug Use

A sharp rise in blood pressure is one of the short-term physiological side effects of cocaine use, but it can lead to some of the more severe medical complications including disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attacks. 

9. Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions such as collagen vascular disorder, scleroderma, and thyroid issues all can cause sudden blood pressure spikes. 

10. Chronic Kidney Disease

Because of the key role the kidneys play in regulating your blood pressure, chronic kidney disease can lead to higher blood pressure levels. In return, high blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for CKD as it increases the amount of force that blood places on the blood vessels. 

Make an Appointment

The team at Durham Nephrology is dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to the people of the Durham, NC area. Our physicians are experts in diagnosing and treating chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, and related conditions. If you have questions or concerns about your blood pressure, call us at 919-477-3005 to talk to a staff member and make an appointment.


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