Home Articles Articles Causes of Hypertension Understanding the Causes of Sudden High Blood Pressure

Understanding the Causes of Sudden High Blood Pressure

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Richa Agrawal, MBBS

Causes of Sudden High Blood Pressure

Most routine check-ups at the doctor’s office start with a blood pressure reading. This is because the blood pressure levels indicate a lot about the patient’s health. If the reading is either high or low, that may be a pointer to potential health issues.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force with which the blood circulates throughout the body or more precisely the amount of pressure exerted on the arteries when the blood flows through them. Normal pressure is essential for the smooth flow of blood that carries life-giving oxygen and other vital nutrients all over the body. The problem arises when the blood pressure in the arteries increases to unhealthy levels and when the heart needs to exert more pressure to pump the same amount of blood. This condition is called high blood pressure or hypertension.

Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure readings have two numbers, the upper/first number is systolic blood pressure or the heart beating number and the lower/second number is the diastolic blood pressure or the heart resting number between beats. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) with the normal blood pressure level being 120/80 mm Hg. When the blood pressure measurement reads 130 systolic or higher or 80 diastolic or higher and stays high during continuous readings then that person will be diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension.

What Causes High Blood Pressure? Are There Any Hypertension Symptoms?

Most people who suffer from hypertension do not show any visible high blood pressure symptoms. Also in almost 90% of cases, there are no known causes of hypertension. But some warning signs of high BP that should not be overlooked include dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, trouble breathing, chest pain, etc. Blood pressure changes naturally many times during the day. Most of these changes are normal and the person may not experience any unusual signs or symptoms. But, if the blood pressure readings are really high or really low then the doctor should be consulted immediately. These highly fluctuating blood pressure readings may be a cause for concern as they might point to more serious health problems.

So, What Are The Causes Of Sudden High Blood Pressure?

A temporary rise in blood pressure (or even a dip) may be the result of several factors such as:

Stress –

Stressful situations can cause blood pressure to spike temporarily. When a person is stressed out, the body produces a surge of hormones which causes the heart to beat faster and narrows the blood vessels resulting in temporarily increasing the blood pressure. Although there is no proof that stress by itself causes long-term high blood pressure, reacting to stress in an unhealthy manner can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. An increase in blood pressure that is related to stress often goes back to the normal range when the person is no longer anxious or worried. But these temporary fluctuations in blood pressure, no matter how normal, can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and arteries much in the same way of long-term high blood pressure.

Medicines –

Certain over the counter and prescription medications can impact blood pressure. Some blood pressure medicines and diuretics lower blood pressure whereas some allergy and cold medications can increase blood pressure.

Physical Activity –

It is known that exercise can increase blood pressure (systolic) but the effects are temporary and once the workout is done the blood pressure gradually returns to normal. The quicker the blood pressure returns to its resting level, the healthier the person is. Swimming, cycling and running put additional demands on the cardiovascular system and that’s why the muscles need more oxygen than when the body is at rest resulting in quick breathing. During these activities, the heart has to pump harder and faster to deliver oxygen and that is why the systolic blood pressureincreases temporarily. Other physical activities such as talking, laughter and even sex can cause blood pressure fluctuations.

Food & Drink –

The body’s health is directly related to what is eaten. The same is true for blood pressure readings. Foods high in Tyramine, a substance found in aged foods, can increase blood pressure. These include fermented, pickled or cured foods.

Adrenal Issues –

Adrenal glands (endocrine glands), situated above the kidneys, produce a variety of hormones, such as adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol, that regulate the metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions. Adrenal fatigue occurs when hormone production is low which can cause the blood pressure to fall. In contrast, an overactive adrenal system can cause sudden spikes in blood pressure and hypertension.

White Coat Syndrome –

White coat syndrome also known as white coat hypertensionis a phenomenon in which people have a blood pressure reading above the normal range, in a clinical setting, though they do not display the same in other settings. The temporary rise in blood pressure is due to anxiety during visiting a doctor.

How To Manage Fluctuating Blood Pressure?

Unless the blood pressure levels are extremely high (or low) and require immediate medical attention, temporarily fluctuating blood pressure levels can be managed by:

  1. Regular Monitoring Of Blood Pressure Readings –

    High or low, fluctuating blood pressure levels may indicate potential health problems so it is necessary to regularly monitor the readings.

  2. Making Lifestyle Changes –

    The first line of treatment for changing blood pressure readings is adopting a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep and less stress).

  3. Taking Medications Prescribed By The Doctor –

    If the healthy lifestyle change is not sufficient to stabilize the blood pressure then it is necessary to take the medicines prescribed by the doctor.

Factors That Can Cause A Sudden Increase In Blood Pressure

Some factors and conditions that can increase the risk of fluctuating blood pressure are:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Over exercising
  3. High salt intake
  4. Dehydration
  5. Excessive alcohol consumption
  6. Thyroid
  7. Smoking and use of tobacco
  8. Cardiovascular porblems
  9. Ineffective blood pressure medication
  10. Working through the night
  11. Diabetes
  12. High stress levels
  13. Pregnancy


1. Can high blood pressure be a symptom of something else?

In a way, untreated high blood pressure can lead to further complications like heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, arterial issues, and vascular dementia amongst other things. It’s therefore essential to understand the causes of sudden high pressure and take corrective action immediately.

2. What are the symptoms of a spike in blood pressure?

Stressful situations, some blood pressure medicines and diuretics lower blood pressure. In contrast, some allergy and cold medications, physical activity, foods high in Tyramine and even an overactive adrenal system are some causes of sudden high blood pressure that can spike the blood pressure.

3. What raises your high blood pressure?

Some factors and conditions that can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure include anxiety, over-exercising, high salt intake, dehydration, smoking, tobacco use, working through the night, and high-stress levels.

4. What to do when suddenly blood pressure gets high?

When your blood pressure levels are incredibly high, you require immediate medical attention. Visit a physician as soon as possible and start the treatment.

Note of caution: This article is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor before altering any diet plans, medications or in case of any other blood pressure-related troubles.
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Comments (27)


Very insightful blog


This information is very beneficial. Thank you for sharing this knowledge with us.


Do I need to follow my BP meds forever?

BPincontrol Team

Hello, blood pressure isn’t like a fever that will be okay after a few days. It is a prolonged disease that needs proper and regular care. You might have to take these medications throughout your life. As your doctor will understand your health better than anyone, we advise you to consult with your doctor before stopping any medication.


How does dehydration affect blood pressure and heart rate?

BPincontrol Team

Hello, when you are dehydrated, your body’s blood volume decreases. And to adjust this, your heart beats faster, which increases your blood pressure overall. As the sodium content increases, it becomes difficult to circulate the blood. Therefore, one must stay hydrated to balance blood pressure.


My sister has high blood pressure, will I have it too?

BPincontrol Team

Hello, high blood pressure depends on your body’s wellbeing. Apart from this, hypertension also runs in the family; if your mother or father or anyone related to you by blood has it, chances are you might get it. We advise you to consult a doctor to know better.


What can be an unexpected cause for high blood pressure?

BPincontrol Team

Hello, a person’s blood pressure might rise due to different reasons. Normal blood pressure readings should be 120/80 mm Hg. Factors that can cause an unexpected rise in blood pressure are: Excess exercise, Dehydration, Anxiety, Pregnancy, Over stressing, High alcohol consumption, Cardiovascular issues & more You should consult an expert to know your cause of high blood pressure.


How does anxiety affect your blood pressure level?

BPincontrol Team

Hello, anxiety can raise your blood pressure levels, but these are only for a short duration of time. Anxiety can also lead to a condition called White Coat Hypertension, but again, this can be for a temporary spike in blood pressure levels. Anxiety also triggers your stress hormones which result in high blood pressure levels. It is advised to consult a doctor to know more about your condition.


Can my blood pressure levels rise during pregnancy?

BPincontrol Team

Yes, there are chances of that happening. As a woman enters pregnancy, her blood pressure levels can change; this varies from person to person. There is no need to worry about it. A consultation with your doctor shall be fine.


Great read.


I had no clue that your blood pressure can rise due to pregnancy! Great information.


High blood pressure runs in our family, is it likely that it will be passed on to my children?


Hello, Studies show that hypertension runs in the family, but it is not guaranteed that it will. A lot of other factors are also responsible for it. We advise consulting with a doctor and getting correct information on how it will affect you and your family and talk about the possible solutions to control your blood pressure levels.


How does pregnancy increase blood pressure?


Hello, During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes, not just the visible ones. The amount of blood flow in a woman's body increases by 45 % throughout the pregnancy. The increased blood pressure isn’t a permanent thing; it goes away after 12 weeks of childbirth. But it is advised that a pregnant woman should get her blood pressure levels checked every week.


How to keep your blood pressure in control?


Hello, We are glad that you wish to be healthy. There are many ways through which you can keep your blood pressure in control. Stating a few, you can avoid excess sodium (Salt) in your diet, exercising regularly, practicing meditation to keep your mind cool helps, and a regular checkup from the doctor is the best way to control your blood pressure.


Can medicines raise blood pressure?


Hello, Although medicines are there to help you, certain medicines might have side effects on you. That usually depends on your medical conditions and history and isn’t a common phenomenon. It is best advised to consult your family doctor or have an in-depth conversation with your doctor before you start your medications. You can always find a physician here: Find a physician.


Insightful. I think this helps a lot.


Nice Article!


Well Explained!

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