Health Facts: What Causes Blood Pressure to Spike Suddenly?

what causes blood pressure to spike suddenly

Every time you visit your medical doctor for consultations, the first thing they will do is take you through a blood pressure test to check if you have high blood pressure. This test is important because high blood pressure doesn’t present obvious signs in most instances.

One in every three Americans has high blood pressure, and 20 percent of these people don’t know they have it. While there are many causes of high blood pressure, certain situations and diets can cause your blood pressure to spike suddenly.

This article takes a closer look at some of the things that will always cause your blood pressure to go up abruptly.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure

Commonly referred to as hypertension, high blood pressure is the excess force caused by the blood as it pushes against your artery walls. The excess force ends up damaging the walls of your arteries and other parts of your body, including your heart and blood vessels. The results of your blood pressure are presented in two numbers. For example, normal blood pressure should read 120/80 or lower.

The top number (120) represents the systolic blood pressure, which is the force that pushes against your artery walls during a heartbeat. The lower number (80) represents the diastolic blood pressure, which is the force in your arteries when your heart is resting between heartbeats. Any number above 120/80 is viewed as a sign of high blood pressure.

What Causes Blood Pressure to Spike?

Blood Pressure to Spike

First, it’s important to mention that your blood pressure will naturally go up and down throughout the day as you face different situations. However, sometimes you’ll experience abrupt spikes in your blood pressure, some of which will put you at risk of developing other serious medical complications. Here are some of the causes of sudden spikes in blood pressure.

5 Foods That Cause Your Blood Pressure to Spike

Your diet plays a critical role in determining your blood pressure levels. While some foods will help to lower your blood pressure, others will cause it to spike. Here are the foods that will cause your blood pressure to shoot up abruptly.

  • Caffeine

Studies have shown that caffeine causes a sudden rise in blood pressure, even in people whose blood pressure readings are usually normal. However, it’s still not clear why this natural chemical and stimulant causes a sudden spike in blood pressure. Therefore, if you already have high blood pressure, it’s important to seek your doctor’s advice on the number of caffeinated drinks you should have.

  • Tyramine

Tyramine is a type of amino acid that helps to regulate blood pressure. Although this amino acid occurs naturally in the body, it can also be found in certain foods like aged cheese and cured, processed, or smoked meat. While tyramine helps to regulate blood pressure, it can cause your blood pressure to rise sharply if you take large amounts of it.

  • High-Sodium Foods

Although the main cause of high blood pressure remains a mystery, excess consumption of sodium certainly exacerbates the risk. The World Health Organization recommends you to take not more than 5gm of sodium a day.

A modest reduction in sodium intake leads to a significant drop in systolic blood pressure. Excessive consumption of sodium is known to cause water retention in your blood, resulting in increased pressure in your arteries during blood flow.

  • Fatty and Fried Foods

Foods with excess saturated fats such as fried chips, chicken, and fatty meat can cause your blood pressure to spike abruptly. Consuming a lot of saturated fat will increase your blood cholesterol thus causing your blood pressure to spike. It can also result in other serious complications such as heart disease and stroke. Therefore, if you already have high blood pressure, avoid fried and fatty foods.

  • Margarine and Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oil and margarine are known to have large amounts of trans fats, which will increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, resulting in high blood pressure. Margarine also contains large amounts of sodium that will cause your blood pressure to spike.

6 Situations That Cause Your Blood Pressure to Spike


Apart from avoiding foods that cause hypertension, you should also stay away from situations and routines that are likely to cause your blood pressure to rise. Here are some of the situations that are likely to cause your blood pressure to spike.

1. Medication

Certain medications are known to trigger an increase in blood pressure. For instance, some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and combinations of drugs can cause your blood pressure to spike abruptly. Therefore, you should be cautious when taking these drugs, especially if your blood pressure is already high.

2. Smoking

Research has revealed that smoking a cigarette can cause an instant 5-10 mm Hg rise in blood pressure. Even though the sudden spike in your blood pressure is temporary, continuous smoking will lead to other serious health problems, such as heart complications due to prolonged damage to the walls of your arteries.

3. Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety have been found to cause temporary spikes in blood pressure. However, the occasional episodes of high blood pressure can become permanent if you do not address the cause of your stress. Anxiety also causes what is commonly referred to as white coat hypertension.

This is a temporary increase in your blood pressure when you are in the doctor’s office. But your blood pressure drops back to normal when you leave the hospital. You can talk to your doctor for advice on how to avoid this kind of hypertension.

4. Overactive Adrenal Glands

The work of your overactive adrenal glands is to regulate sodium and water in your body. Sometimes, these glands can produce excess hormones, causing your blood pressure to rise abruptly.

For instance, these glands are known to produce excessive amounts of aldosterone. hormone, which causes high blood pressure and other symptoms of potassium deficiency, including general weakness, paralysis, muscle aches, and spasms.

5. Drug Use

One of the immediate physiological effects of cocaine use is an abrupt spike in your blood pressure. It can also cause serious health problems like heart attacks and interruption in your heart rhythm.

6. Ailments

Certain ailments, including collagen vascular disorder, thyroid problems, and scleroderma are known to cause a rise in blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease is another major culprit. Since your kidneys help to regulate your blood pressure, any chronic disease is likely to cause your blood pressure to spike.

Symptoms and Dangers of High Blood Pressure


The most terrifying and risky thing about high blood pressure is the fact that many people don’t know they have it. That’s because it doesn’t present any symptoms at the initial stages. so, you’ll only start to notice some of its symptoms when it’s already reached the critical stage.

Here are some of the symptoms of high blood pressure:

• Severe headaches
• Vision problems
• Nose bleeding
• Chronic fatigue and confusion
• Unexplained chest pain
• Blood-stained urine
• Difficulty breathing
• Irregular heartbeats
• Pounding in the ears, chest, or neck

Don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms because they could be signs of a hypertensive crisis. If left unchecked, this condition can cause a heart attack, stroke, and other serious heart complications.

Although not all cases of high blood pressure cause nose bleeding and headaches, these symptoms are likely to occur in a hypertensive crisis.

The easiest way to know if you have high blood pressure is to go for regular checkups. The America Heart Association (AHA) recommends adults have their blood pressure checked at least once a year.

Treatment for High Blood Pressure


Before you even think about the best treatment for high blood pressure, you should learn how to prevent it. Fortunately, most cases of hypertension can easily be managed and controlled by simple lifestyle changes. For example, you can manage your hypertension by eating a healthy diet with less sodium, engaging in physical activities regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing alcohol consumption.

If the lifestyle changes don’t help, your doctor will recommend you to take certain medications to lower your blood pressure. The prescription you get will depend on your overall health and blood pressure readings. However, sometimes your doctor will try several prescriptions they find the right one for you.

Medical treatment for high blood pressure is most suitable for people with chronic kidney disease and diabetes. This type of treatment is also suitable for people suffering from coronary artery disease or who are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Some of the most common medications for treating high blood pressure include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers.

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