First, don’t panic. Fluctuating blood pressure is normal. Just because you did not know that earlier, it does not mean you did not have it. In fact, having fluctuating blood pressure is good news. It indicates robust health. People with blood pressure that does not move up and down are in big trouble. Seeing 120/80 mmHg all the time is a bad sign.
So erratic means healthy?
Not all blood pressure fluctuations are healthy. Fluctuations that are healthy perfectly match the activity level. That means if you sleep your number should be down. When you exercise the numbers must go up. When you sit at your desk, they should be somewhere in between.
But what’s healthy and what’s not? The rule is this: the more intense the exertion the higher the numbers should go. Don’t be alarmed when you see 180 mmHg while weight lifting. That’s normal and likely desirable. Some athletes go as high as 400 mmHg systolic. The reason why they don’t keel over with a stroke is because they have healthy elastic arteries. Spiked blood pressure does not kill unless it is paired with brittle blood vessels.
High or fluctuating blood pressure?
Before we move on we need to distinguish high from fluctuating blood pressure. These two, although related, are not the same. Hypertension occurs when all or most fluctuations go above 140/90 mmHg regardless of level of exertion. For example, a casual walk should not increase the numbers, but moving a fridge to a different spot is a different story.
Emotional stress should never push the numbers beyond 140/90 mmHg. If it does, learning a few stress coping techniques may be the right thing to do. Erratic blood pressure tends to get worse over time if its causes are not addressed, so don’t dismiss the first warning signs.
Look for reasons, not pills
We have a tendency to look for pills to fix our ailments. Unfortunately there are no pills for fluctuating blood pressure. There are only pills for high blood pressure or low blood pressure. Neither does anything to appease the erratic numbers.
Fluctuating blood pressure has many different causes. Among them are:
- Nutritional deficiencies; the bare minimum is a high potency B-complex, magnesium, and vitamin D. You may want to check your vitamin D level beforehand to prevent overdosing or even order a full mineral profile to screen for hidden nutrient deficiencies.
- Cortisol insufficiency or excess; this is where adrenal profile is most handy. Adrenals decide on blood pressure fluctuations more than the heart. They actually tell the heart and the blood vessels what to do.
- Deconditioning; this is nothing else than a lack of physical capacity. Deconditioned individuals have the biggest cardiovascular challenges including high and fluctuating blood pressure, racing heart, easy exhaustion and light-headedness on movement. Arm yourself with a fitbit or vivoactive to check your fitness stats or improve conditioning.
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- Fluctuating BP in seniors
For additional causes and solutions to erratic numbers consult The Ultimate Guide to Low & Fluctuating Blood Pressure. It may be just the read you were looking for.