Q:

Why do blood pressure readings fluctuate?

A:

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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