One of the most frustrating things about checking your blood pressure is that it can vary greatly not only from day to day, but from moment to moment. Blood pressure can, in a way, be compared to breathing—it varies depending on what you are doing at that particular moment. Lower or high blood pressure readings also occur due to the position of your body, your hormone level, and your overall health. However, you can still efficiently and effectively monitor your blood pressure at home, if you remember that variance is possible.
‘White coat’ syndrome is a term often used when speaking about high blood pressure and its variances. To understand this form of high blood pressure, you must also understand your own body. White coat syndrome specifically occurs to blood pressure levels that spike only when you visit a doctor’s office or have your blood pressure measured by a professional member of the medical community. Although this is a somewhat real phenomenon, white coat high blood pressure may not be simply a case of the nerves. Instead, you could be inaccurately measuring your blood pressure at home. Even if white coat syndrome actually is occurring, it is also important to look at overall trends in your blood pressure.
Spikes in blood pressure due to this condition may be nothing to worry about, but if they are exceedingly high, you should be concerned. This condition can also be fatal for someone who already has high blood pressure. Before you dismiss doctor’s office spikes, understand your own body and how it works. You may need treatment even if your blood pressure has previously seemed normal.
Blood pressure changes for a variety of other reasons as well. First, home test are not as accurate as some of the test you can use to regulate your blood pressure in a hospital setting. Inaccuracies occur frequently, and the packaging should be able to tell you how accurate the tests are. Even if they are not perfect, home blood pressure regulation is still very important—just remember that changes from one day to the next are ok if they are small. Monitor your blood pressure at the same time every day if possible, while you are doing the same activity. A good time is in the morning before you begin your day, but medications can also throw off your blood pressure, so if you take pills first thing in the morning, measure your blood pressure before that.
Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or eating certain foods can also cause your blood pressure to spike momentarily. To more accurately get a reading of your blood pressure (as well as prevent high blood pressure), it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke or otherwise introduce chemical substances into your body, doing so in moderation can increase your risk for high blood pressure, and also help you more accurately check it. Exercise also plays a huge role in blood pressure, so if you’ve recently been working out or doing other activity that has you breathing heavily, your blood pressure reading will be different than if you’re resting. Even standing up versus sitting down makes a difference in your blood pressure.
Remember that 30 or even 40 mm Hg differences during a day are not uncommon. More should result in you calling your physician to schedule an appointment for a more accurate reading. Blood pressure is sometimes difficult to regulate, but it is very important in understanding the overall health of your body.