What Causes Sudden High Blood Pressure?

By Heather Rutherford

  • Overview

    What Causes Sudden High Blood Pressure?
    Sudden high blood pressure can be a cause for concern. These sudden spikes are particularly troubling for those with a history of high blood pressure or for those at risk of heart attack or stroke. Knowing the causes of sudden high blood pressure is the first step in preventing these spikes.
  • Diet

    One of the most common causes of sudden high blood pressure is dietary. Foods high in salt results in blood vessel constriction which leads to high blood pressure. Avoiding high amounts of salt is the best defense. If an exorbitant amount of salt has recently been consumed it is important to offset the sodium with water. Drinking a few glasses of water can help to wash out the salt quickly as well as hydrate the body to encourage an opening of the constricted blood vessels. Other foods that will cause sudden high blood pressure include foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Dietary Deficiency

    Diet deficiencies contribute to a large number of patients experiencing sudden high blood pressure. Potassium, calcium and magnesium are the main diet deficiencies known to cause elevated and sudden blood pressure spikes. The exact deficiency is hard to pinpoint without a blood test but eating a banana with a glass of milk would certainly not hurt while waiting to see a doctor to assess the real cause of the sudden high blood pressure.


  • Stimulants

    Stimulants, like caffeine and ephedra, can often cause spikes in blood pressure. This is due to the constriction of blood vessels as well as an increased heart rate. While most people can handle a little caffeine, occasionally adverse reactions will occur. Other blood pressure raising stimulants include several commonly used herbal supplements like, St. John's Wort, bitter orange and ginseng. If blood pressure rises suddenly, discontinue use of all herbal supplements until options can be discussed with a physician.
  • Stress

    Stress and emotional turmoil are two huge contributors to sudden high blood pressure. When stress levels are high due to a trauma, stress at work or major life changes, the body tends to shut down in any number of ways. For some people this means a temporary breakdown of the vascular system. This is part of the reason why many people experiencing bouts of stress or depression will also experience physical symptoms like headaches.
  • Medications

    Some medications will cause sudden high blood pressure. In a healthy person it is assumed that the benefits of the medications outweigh the risks from the high blood pressure. These medications include several mood altering antidepressants, many birth control pills, decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, and many NSAIDS like ibuprofen and naproxen. If currently or recently using any of these medications contact a doctor as soon as possible to discuss the available options.
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