Why is My Blood Pressure High?

So you know that you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure can cause heart attacks, strokes and kidney problems. It is also important for your blood pressure to be just right when you visit your doctor’s office, so your healthcare team can tell if you need any changes to your blood pressure medications.

Even if you are taking your blood pressure medications the way your doctor ordered them for you, your blood pressure numbers can be too high when you visit your doctor’s office. So why does this happen?

One reason could be that you’re not following a healthy meal plan, and that you are eating foods that are high in salt or using too much salt in your cooking. Too much salt in your foods can make your blood pressure too high. We encourage you to watch the DASH diet video to learn how to decrease the amount of salt in your diet and make healthy food choices to help lower your blood pressure.

A second reason your blood pressure might be high is from not getting enough activity. Regular exercise with a goal of five days a week, for a total of 30 minutes each of those days, helps to control your blood pressure. But every little bit helps. You can watch our video on exercise in this series, to get some ideas on what activities might work better for you. 

Forgetting to take your blood pressure medication can be another reason why your blood pressure is too high today. You should take all doses of your blood pressure medications. This is also important on the morning or day of a doctor’s visit and most procedures. You can take your blood pressure medications on office visit days with a glass of water, even if you have been told not to eat before your visit. 

If you don’t take all your medications on time, your blood pressure will run high that day. Your doctor will not know if you need any changes to your medication to help control it. To help remember taking all your blood pressure medications, consider setting reminders on your phone or using a daily or weekly pill box.

If you’re running out of blood pressure medications or spreading them out because you’re having trouble paying for them, talk with your doctor. There are ways your healthcare team can help to make sure you’re able to have enough to take all the time. 

High blood pressure can also be caused by stress or being sick. Stress can be as simple as being stuck in traffic or having to hunt for a parking space on your way to your visit. Let your doctor know if you are under stress or if you are sick on the day of your office visit.

You can help to make sure the blood pressure numbers you have in the doctor’s office will be accurate by:

  • Sticking to a low salt diet and finding an exercise routine that works for you
  • Taking your blood pressure medications on time, all the time – including before a doctor’s office visit
  • And, letting your healthcare team know if you are running out of your blood pressure pills for any reason so they can help you get your refills on time. 

Following these tips will help keep your blood pressure down and improve your health, every day.