High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease, strokes, and kidney disease, and most people with high blood pressure have what we call primary hypertension or essential hypertension, meaning it's just the luck of the draw, mostly your genetics. And there's no one identifiable reason that you have high blood pressure. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw and you have the diagnosis, but that does not mean that you are powerless because there are many factors that can trigger your blood pressure and make it higher. If you knew there were ways to lower your blood pressure, wouldn't you want to know it? Today, I'm giving you 17 everyday culprits that will raise your high blood pressure numbers. Keep reading.
How Do You Know If You Have High Blood Pressure?
If your systolic blood pressure number, that top number, is 130 or greater, or if your diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number, is 80 or greater, then you have high blood pressure or hypertension and you should consult with your doctor. You can also use telemedicine or telehealth services to consult with your doctor from the comfort of your home.
17 Everyday Culprits That Will Raise Your High Blood Pressure Numbers!
I'm Dr. Frita, I'm a medical doctor who is board-certified in nephrology, meaning I am a kidney specialist, so dealing with high blood pressure is what I do. So let's jump right into it. Let's talk about some of the everyday factors that can be causing your blood pressure numbers to go sky-high.
You already know when you're stressed out, that causes your stress hormones to rise, like cortisol. This makes your blood vessels tighten, and it sends your blood pressure numbers up. So everyday things like being at work, having pressures in relationships, parenting, and anything that causes you stress can cause your numbers to go up. So find ways to manage your stress.
2. Cell Phones
We all need cell phones in our daily lives to communicate with our family, loved ones, work, and kids, but cell phones can be stressful especially when that notification button is going off or when you're trying to see if it's a spam caller versus a person you really don't want to talk to. Cell phones can stress you out. So find ways to manage your time so that you're not on cell phones all the time and you don't become totally dependent on them. They can stress you out and they can make your blood pressure go up.
3. Daily Traffic
Daily traffic, can also cause a rise in blood pressure numbers, especially depending upon where you live. You have rude drivers who want to fishtail you and cut you off. You may also have to contend with people with road rage, not to mention the actual daily traffic, especially when there's construction. Why do people sit up here and do construction in the middle of rush hour? I'll never know. And if you're running late and you're in heavy traffic that can stress you out. So try to avoid that or else your blood pressure numbers can hit the roof!
Yes, caffeine. In some people, caffeine can have a short but intense effect on your blood pressure. It can send your blood pressure numbers up. Now this doesn't mean that you absolutely have to cut coffee out of your diet but it does mean that if you have high blood pressure, you need to consult with your physician and figure out what levels are safe for you.
Oh my gosh, if you are the parent of little kids or toddlers having temper tantrums, falling all out like fainting goats, that can be stressful! Also, just figuring out your work-life balance, having the parental guilt because you're not there enough. Or if you're there with your kids and you feel like, "Oh my gosh, I need a break from these doggone kids!" that can be stressful.
Also, having deep conversations, especially with adolescents, oh my gosh, if you're talking about "the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees" and you're trying to have honest conversations with your kids, yet you don't want them to know all of your business of when you were a teenager, that can send your blood pressure levels up! It's important to figure out coping mechanisms that can help you manage this type of stress and gain control of your high blood pressure.
6. Political Elections
Enough said, really, but you know, things can be so divisive when it comes to politics and so watching politics and realizing that you have to focus on what you can control can be frustrating.. Understanding that even when you're trying to encourage loved ones to vote, and sometimes they're not listening to you, that can be frustrating. Also, thinking about the future and just how much weight political elections can have on you, is stressful. And even in your friendships, you may be friends with people who have very different political views, and that can forge a wedge in that friendship. All of these things can cause your blood pressure to shoot up.
7. Financial Concerns
Worrying about money can definitely raise your blood pressure numbers. Thinking about bills, bills, bills, can you pay your telephone bill? Thinking about loans, loan forgiveness, thinking about planning for the future, worrying about the financial stability of your family, or loved ones, giving loans, receiving loans, or just anything dealing with money. Financial concerns can definitely send your blood pressure numbers through the roof!
8. Work Deadlines
Deadlines are everywhere and they can certainly be stressful, trying to figure out your schedule, trying to figure out that perfect balance, and sometimes you just can't get it all done. That pressure can make your blood pressure numbers rise.
9. Disagreements or Arguments
I don't care if it's a disagreement with a friend, a child, a partner, or a loved one, even disagreements with total strangers on social media can cause your blood pressure to go up. So please choose your battles so that you can maintain a normal blood pressure.
10. Sleep Disorders
If you are someone who has insomnia, meaning you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, this can cause you to have higher blood pressure levels. Or if you have a disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. How do you know if you have it? Well, you can get formal testing and you should consult with your physician. But if you're a person who snores, okay, if you are snoring loudly, and all of a sudden you stop breathing, absence of breath, or apnea, then you very likely have obstructive sleep apnea. And this can cause your blood pressure to rise. It's actually quite serious.
If you smoke cigarettes, just please stop. They're on the list of every risk factor for practically every disease. But definitely, smoking is a risk factor for high blood pressure. It causes inflammation, and it causes heart disease. And whether you're an active smoker or if you're sitting around inhaling secondary cigarette smoke, it can make your blood pressure go up.
12. Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Yeah, you can blame it on the alcohol if your blood pressure is up. If you are drinking in excessive amounts, if you're binge drinking, or even if you're just drinking daily amounts that are too high, it can cause your blood pressure to rise. Be sure to watch my video on the dark side of alcohol after you finish reading this article.
If you are a person who is living with obesity, then this could cause you to have an elevated blood pressure. By definition, a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or greater, or if your calculation based on your body composition shows that you have excessive amounts of body fat/visceral fat, then you may be a person who's living with obesity, consult with your physician. Living with obesity can increase your risk for heart disease and hypertension, but there's also another component to it and it's the way society acts towards people who are living with obesity.
I was having this conversation with someone that in many ways, discriminating against people who are overweight or who are living with obesity, almost seems like the last acceptable form of discrimination, and it's just not right. And what's really annoying is that a lot of people will troll someone who's living with obesity on the internet with this faux concern, "Oh, I'm just concerned about your health," and it gives them an excuse to discriminate. And that stress of discrimination can cause your blood pressure to rise.
And another thing, colleagues, okay, fellow physicians, you can be culprits too in causing people who are living with obesity to have blood pressures that are high. And this is why, a lot of times patients with obesity are even scared to go to the doctor and give complaints because it's like no matter what you say, the doctor's going say, "Well, you know if you lose weight, it'll get better."
Even if the problem really doesn't have a direct relationship with the patient's size, they can say, "My shoulder is itching," or, "My nose is tingling," and the doctor will say, "Well, you just need to lose weight." That can be stressful and it can make patients who are living with obesity less likely to go seek medical attention, which of course can make the problem prolonged. So yes, living with obesity can raise your blood pressure for many reasons.
Oh my gosh, yes. Being at work with other people, having to manage interpersonal relationships, or being in situations where there is competition that's built up between coworkers, all of that can be a real cause of stress, and also cause high blood pressure. Also, if you're not a people person, my oldest daughter is an introvert and she wears a t-shirt that says, "It's too peopley outside." Well, if you feel like that, and people kinda get on your nerves a little bit, and you think it's "too peopley outside", then dealing with coworkers can certainly make your blood pressure increase.
15. Medical Appointments
If going to the doctor stresses you out, this can cause you to have "white coat hypertension", meaning that your blood pressure is more elevated in the doctor's office than it actually is at home or when you're in calm environments. And this can be due to a lot of reasons, mainly when you're the patient and you go to the doctor, at that moment, you're not really in control because you don't know what the doctor's going to say about your health, what the doctor's going tell you to do. And it can put you in a situation where you're stressed out and your blood pressure shoots up.
It's oftentimes a good idea to keep a log of your blood pressure at home. I have a lot of my patients to do home blood pressure logs or I have blood pressure monitoring systems for home because I do know that medical appointments can cause their blood pressure to shoot up.
16. Unhealthy Diet Choices
You already know this, if you're out here eating an unhealthy diet, that can cause your blood pressure levels to skyrocket! What do I mean by an unhealthy diet? If you're eating a diet that's high in salt, and high in sodium. According to the American Heart Association, the average adult should be eating less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. If you're eating a lot of salt, that can make your blood pressure go up.
Also, processed foods, you want to avoid eating a lot of processed food, it can lead to inflammation in your blood vessels and weight gain, and that's "no bueno!" It's not good for your blood pressure. You want to avoid eating a lot of saturated fats, and trans fats, and you want to make sure that you eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and in foods that have antioxidants and phytochemicals, all of those things. But yes, eating an unhealthy diet can certainly cause your blood pressure to go up. Don't do it.
17. Sedentary Lifestyle
Having a sedentary lifestyle, and being a couch potato, you already know that can make your blood pressure go up. You want to make sure that you move your body and exercise, and that doesn't mean you have to have the most expensive gym membership. It doesn't mean you have to be around here lifting all kinds of weights and trying to be the Iron Man for three hours a day. No, just move your body. According to the American Heart Association, the recommendation is for you to exercise 150 minutes per week. That's about 30 minutes, five days out of the week at minimum. But some studies also show that even if you move your body for 11 minutes a day, that can also contribute to better overall health.
You can take the stairs instead of taking the elevator, you can park far away from the grocery store instead of taking that close parking space in order to get some extra exercise. During your lunch break, you can walk around in the parking lot or walk around in the building. You can figure out chair exercises or do chair yoga if you're someone who has problems with ambulation. If you have arthritis or joint pains, you can join a gym or find out how you can get access to a pool and do some water aerobics. There are all kinds of ways to move your body but just please do, because a sedentary lifestyle can raise your numbers.
What Did I Miss?
I hope these 17 everyday culprits help you get a better idea of how to manage your blood pressure levels. But this list is just a start, there may be other things that can cause your blood pressure to rise as well. What did I miss? What raises your blood pressure numbers? Be sure to leave a comment below and share your experience.
Remember, you can always consult with your doctor if you are concerned about your high blood pressure numbers or have any other questions. An online doctor for telehealth is also a great way to get advice from the comfort of your home and ensure that you stay healthy and keep those blood pressure numbers down! If you found this article to be helpful and informative, please be sure to share it with the people you care about.