6 totally innocent reasons your blood pressure just measured sky-high


If you’ve never had a problem with your blood pressure before, it can be jarring to hear that your reading measured higher than the normal cutoff of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
But you don’t need to freak out just yet.
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. If your blood pressure is consistently high, it can damage those vessels, raising your risk of conditions like heart attack, stroke, or even erectile dysfunction, says the American Heart Association.
But normal blood pressure that’s just temporarily higher—even up to 15 to 20 points above usual— is pretty much harmless, says Orlando Health Physicians Internal Medicine Group internist Benjamin Kaplan, M.D.
In fact, there are a number of innocent things that can also be responsible for a fleeting BP spike. Here are 6 to consider if your reading seems weirdly high.
If you get nervous the second you step into your doctor’s office, your heart might start pounding.
“The body essentially reacts in a fight-or-flight manner, increasing the heart rate and getting ready to make a move,” says Dr. Kaplan.
Experts call the resulting increase in blood pressure “white coat hypertension,” which can cause your reading to spike by as much as 15 points, suggests a review published in Hypertension.
Taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth can help you calm down, which will slow your heart rate and bring your blood pressure back down to normal, says Dr. Kaplan.
Waiting until the end of your appointment to have your BP measured might help, too. “By then, you’ll hopefully have all of your questions answered, and you’ll be less anxious,” he says.
Cause of Temporary High Blood Pressure: You rushed to your appointment.
It’s happened to all of us: The only available parking spot is a block away—and you have 5 minutes to make it to your doctor’s office on the building’s third floor. That’s bad news for your blood pressure, and not just because of the effect of the mental stress of being late.
When you walk fast or run, your heart rate increases as it pumps more blood to power your muscles. More blood pumping through your vascular system means more pressure on the walls of your blood vessels. That causes your blood pressure to temporarily rise, says Dr. Kaplan.
So instead of having your BP checked at the beginning of your appointment, ask your doctor if he can wait until the end.

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