8 Surprising Everyday Habits That Could Be Spiking Your Blood Pressure


If you think you’re doing everything right to manage your blood pressure, but your numbers are still stubbornly high, there might be some surprising factors raising your blood pressure.

It’s not just salt and stress that can send your readings soaring. From the snacks you enjoy to the medicines you take, there are surprising things that could be pushing your numbers higher. Here are 8 surprising everyday habits that could secretly sabotage your heart health.

1- Added Sugar

It’s not just your waistline that suffers from too much sugar.  Overdoing it on added sugars (those not naturally present in foods like fruit ) can mess with your blood pressure. When you consume sugary drinks, processed foods, and sugary treats, your body experiences a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. 

In response, your pancreas releases insulin to try and normalize blood sugar. Over time, repeated sugar surges can make your body less responsive to insulin, leading to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with higher blood pressure.

2- Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. These pauses in breathing cause several problems that wreak havoc on your blood pressure:

Each time breathing pauses, oxygen levels in the blood plummet. This triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, spiking stress hormones like adrenaline. These hormones raise your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, sending your blood pressure soaring.

The constant oxygen dips and stress hormone surges put a huge strain on your cardiovascular system. Over time, this chronic stress can lead to sustained high blood pressure, even during the daytime when you’re awake. Up to 50% of people with untreated sleep apnea also have high blood pressure. 

3- Over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDs)

Common over-the-counter pain relievers called NSAIDs  (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be surprisingly harmful to your blood pressure, especially if used frequently.  Popular NSAIDs include:
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
  • Aspirin (in high doses)

 NSAIDs can constrict the blood vessels in your kidneys, hindering their ability to filter sodium and fluid from the body efficiently. This leads to fluid retention, which puts extra strain on your blood vessels and increases blood pressure.

NSAIDs can interfere with the effectiveness of some blood pressure medications, making it more difficult to control your readings. If you rely on NSAIDs too often for pain, it can mask an underlying condition that could be contributing to the pain and elevated blood pressure.

4- Loneliness & Stress

Your diet and habits, as well as your emotional well-being, play a crucial role in managing blood pressure. Both loneliness and stress trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. 

These hormones raise your heart rate, constrict blood vessels, and disrupt normal blood flow – all of which lead to spikes in blood pressure. Over time, chronic stress and loneliness keep this stress response constantly activated, causing sustained high blood pressure.

People might turn to smoking, overeating, excessive alcohol consumption, or decreased physical activity as ways to manage difficult emotions.

5- Air Pollution

The air you breathe might be more harmful to your heart health than you realize. Tiny particles and gases in air pollution can increase your risk of high blood pressure in several ways:

Inflammation overload: Inhaling air pollution triggers systemic inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can damage blood vessel walls and make them less flexible, contributing to increased blood pressure.

Oxidative stress: Air pollution creates oxidative stress – an imbalance of harmful molecules called free radicals. This oxidative stress further damages blood vessels and disrupts how they regulate blood pressure.

6- Holding On Your Urine

When nature calls, it’s best to answer! Regularly delaying urination can surprisingly have negative consequences for your blood pressure. When your bladder is full, it puts pressure on the surrounding muscles and organs, including blood vessels, temporarily raising your blood pressure.

Over time, if you frequently ignore the urge to urinate and force your bladder to overstretch, it may become less sensitive to fullness. This could contribute to chronically elevated blood pressure.

7- Licorice

Real licorice (not the candy that’s often just flavored with anise!), derived from the licorice root, contains a compound called glycyrrhizin. This compound can cause some surprising problems for your blood pressure.

Glycyrrhizin blocks an enzyme in your body that helps regulate sodium levels. This leads to a buildup of sodium, which pulls extra water into your bloodstream, increasing blood volume and putting extra pressure on blood vessels.

Glycyrrhizin can also cause your body to excrete too much potassium.  Potassium is important for helping blood vessels relax. Low potassium levels contribute to blood vessel constriction and higher blood pressure.

In some people, glycyrrhizin can mimic the effects of the hormone aldosterone, which regulates blood pressure. This excess aldosterone-like activity further worsens sodium retention and potassium loss.

8- Another Health Condition

Your thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, plays a big role in regulating your metabolism, heart rate, and many other important bodily functions. Thyroid disorders can push your blood pressure in unhealthy directions:
  • Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid):  When your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism slows down, and your blood vessels become less flexible. This can lead to diastolic hypertension – an elevation in the bottom number of your blood pressure reading.
  • Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid):  An overactive thyroid floods your body with too much thyroid hormone, speeding up your heart rate and metabolism. This can lead to systolic hypertension – an elevation in your blood pressure’s top number.

Final Thoughts

These hidden blood pressure dangers highlight the importance of understanding all the factors that can influence this vital health marker. Remember, knowledge is power. By making small changes to protect yourself from these surprising risks, you can improve your blood pressure and safeguard your overall heart health.  

Monitoring your blood pressure readings at home is a great way to stay proactive! With Global Touch LLC’s home remote patient monitoring devices, you can seamlessly track your progress and timely intervene for any conditions – putting you in the driver’s seat of your health.

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