Q:

Why do blood pressure readings fluctuate?

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Quick Answer

Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day due to a variety of factors, says Dr. Joshua Penn, cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group. These factors include time of day, stress, anxiety and food sensitivities. Chronic blood pressure fluctuations could be a sign of poorly controlled high blood pressure, Dr. Penn says.

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Full Answer

High blood pressure affects 78 million adults in the United States, with many of them unaware, according to the American Heart Association. If high blood pressure remains uncontrolled, it can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. People with high blood pressure whose readings fluctuate are advised by the American Heart Association not to discontinue medication, as fluctuations are a normal occurrence for most people, hypertensive or not.

To get the most accurate blood pressure reading, Berkeley Wellness recommends using the American Heart Association's guidelines. These guidelines state that two separate blood pressure readings be performed a minute apart; the average of the two readings is the final result. Blood pressure readings can vary significantly depending which arm is tested, so testing on both arms is also recommended. Whichever arm tests higher should be the one used. In most cases, doctors test the patient;'s blood pressure over several separate visits before declaring someone hypertensive, says Berkeley Wellness.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some causes of daily blood pressure fluctuation? [DIFFICULT]?

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    Blood pressure naturally fluctuates each day according to the body's circadian rhythms, reports the Los Angeles Times. For most people, this means their blood pressure is low in the mornings and highest in the middle of the afternoon. Hypertension, stress, strong emotions and food sensitivities can also cause daily blood pressure fluctuations.

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  • Q:

    How do you track your blood pressure?

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    Take readings of your blood pressure at the same time each day, and maintain a diary of your readings including the day, results and the time of the test, according to the American Heart Association. Let your doctor know if you have several elevated readings in a row.

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  • Q:

    How do you read blood pressure charts?

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    Blood pressure charts are read by matching the numbers in an individual's blood pressure reading to the appropriate column -- systolic or diastolic -- on the chart, according to the American Heart Association. That match is compared to the blood pressure category, which ranges from normal to high blood pressure.

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  • Q:

    What are high blood pressure levels?

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    Blood pressure is considered to be high when the systolic reading is between 140 and 159 mm Hg or the diastolic reading is between 90 and 99 mm Hg or higher, according to the American Heart Association. This is known as stage 1 hypertension. A systolic reading of 160 mm Hg or higher, or a diastolic reading of 100 mm Hg or higher, is known as stage 2 hypertension.

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