If you monitor your blood pressure, you might have noticed that your readings are higher in the morning than at night. If your blood pressure is typically within the average range, this is nothing to be concerned about since fluctuations in blood pressure throughout the day are normal. However, if your blood pressure often fluctuates outside of the normal range and becomes hypertensive, it may indicate a serious underlying health condition. If left unchecked, high blood pressure can result in significant health issues such as renal failure, heart disease, and stroke.
This article will examine the causes and effects of morning hypertension, also known as morning high blood pressure. We'll also discuss best practices for managing your blood pressure.
Normal Fluctuations in Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force exerted against the walls of arteries as blood flows through the circulatory system. A number of factors, such as diet, exercise, stress, certain medications, cigarettes, and fluctuations in hormones, can affect blood pressure.
Throughout the day and night, blood pressure naturally rises and falls as a part of your body's normal biological processes. Your metabolic rate slows down while you sleep, and blood pressure generally decreases by 10–20%. However, your blood pressure rises right before and after you wake up. In the morning, your body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause this rise in blood pressure. The release of these hormones is the body's natural response to preparing for the day ahead.
As the day goes on, blood pressure tends to decrease gradually. At night, blood pressure dips to its lowest level. This is known as nocturnal dipping. During nocturnal dipping, the body can rest and recover, which is vital for maintaining good cardiovascular health since it can reduce the workload on the heart and help maintain healthy blood pressure.
While fluctuations in blood pressure are normal, people who consistently have high blood pressure in the morning are at risk of developing complications, such as heart attack and stroke. According to research, the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiac events peaks between 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Therefore, if you have high blood pressure, you should monitor it in the morning and throughout the day.
When Should You Be Concerned?
Blood pressure readings contain two numbers measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The top number indicates systolic blood pressure, or the pressure created when the heart contracts. Diastolic blood pressure, a measurement of the pressure when the heart relaxes, is displayed as the bottom number.
Below are some classifications of blood pressure readings:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: Systolic pressure between 120-129 mmHg and diastolic pressure less than 80 mmHg
- Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic pressure between 130-139 mmHg or diastolic pressure between 80-89 mmHg
- Stage 2 hypertension: Systolic pressure of 140 mmHg or higher or diastolic pressure of 90 mmHg or higher
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic pressure over 180 mmHg or diastolic pressure over 120 mmHg
If your morning blood pressure readings are consistently hypertensive, you should see a doctor. Blood pressure that is consistently high in the mornings is known as morning hypertension and increases your risk for cardiovascular events. You should continue to monitor your blood pressure throughout the day and keep track of your readings.
What are Some Causes of Morning Hypertension?
Anyone can develop morning hypertension, but certain factors may increase your risk. You have a higher chance of developing morning hypertension if you have any of the following conditions:
- Untreated high blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
- Sleep Apnea
- A Thyroid Disorder
- Kidney disease
- Cushing's syndrome
- A family history of hypertension
- Chronic kidney disease
The following factors also increase your risk of developing morning hypertension:
- Being over 65 years old
- Drinking alcohol
- Leading a high-stress lifestyle
- Consuming a diet high in salt and saturated fat
- Being overweight or obese
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
Another factor that can cause a rise in blood pressure is dehydration. If you have other risk factors and are dehydrated, it can cause your blood pressure to rise more than it otherwise would. To learn more, check out Can Dehydration Cause High Blood Pressure? While more research is needed, some studies suggest that there may even be a connection between COVID-19 and high blood pressure.
It's important to understand that not all individuals with these risk factors will develop morning hypertension. Other factors, such as medication use, stress, and poor sleep quality, can also contribute to the condition. However, if you have any of the above risk factors and are concerned about your blood pressure, you should speak with a doctor or healthcare provider.
Several medications can contribute to elevated blood pressure in the morning. These medications include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
- Some Antidepressants
- Hormonal contraceptives
- Stimulants such as amphetamines.
In some cases, medication prescribed to lower blood pressure may cause blood pressure to rise in the morning. If you are on blood pressure medication and experience morning hypertension, you should see your doctor, as your medicine may need to be adjusted.
It's important to emphasize that not all individuals will experience morning hypertension as a side effect of the above medications.
When and how to measure blood pressure
You can better understand your blood pressure changes by regularly using an at home blood pressure monitor, like the OMRON Blood Pressure Monitor, Upper Arm Cuff. Compared to monitors that attach to the finger or wrist, a cuff-style blood pressure monitor, like OMRON's Blood Pressure Monitor, Upper Arm Cuff, is more accurate and reliable.
You should never measure your blood pressure after exercising, smoking, drinking alcohol, or consuming a lot of caffeine. Before you measure your blood pressure, you should empty your bladder, remove any tight clothing or accessories that may interfere with the reading, sit quietly, and relax for a few minutes.
When measuring blood pressure:
- Use your monitor at the same time(s) everyday.
- Sit with your back straight and legs uncrossed. Place your feet flat on the floor.
- Rest your arm on a flat surface or pillow to make sure your upper arm is level with your heart.
- Place the cuff on your arm just above your elbow crease.
- Press the start button and remain still as the cuff inflates.
- Once the reading is complete, the monitor will display your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Take two or three readings.
- Keep a record of all readings in a log book.
Treating hypertension involves addressing the underlying causes. Treating any underlying medical conditions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can aid in regulating hypertension throughout the day, especially in the morning. Controlling hypertension can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events.
Here are some suggestions for lowering blood pressure:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can keep blood pressure under control.
- Eat a nutritious diet: A diet full of fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products will help lower blood pressure. Limiting sodium consumption is crucial because too much salt can raise blood pressure.
- Engage in regular physical activity: Strive for 150 minutes or more per week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption may cause an increase in blood pressure.
- Stop smoking: Within just weeks of quitting smoking, you'll see improvements in your blood pressure readings.
- Manage Stress: Persistent stress can cause high blood pressure, so it's important to learn how to manage stress.
- Medication: Your doctor may recommend medication to help lower your blood pressure if it remains high despite making lifestyle changes. You should discuss potential side-effects with your doctor, especially if you're taking other medications.
You should also consider taking a heart health supplement, such as Healthycell's Heart & Vascular Health supplement. Healthycell's Heart & Vascular Health contains a blend of plant extracts, vitamins and minerals that help maintain normal cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure levels for a healthy heart and vascular system.
For more tips on how to improve your cardiovascular health, check out 9 Ways To Improve Heart & Cardiovascular Health Naturally.
About the Author
Dr. Giampapa is a world-renowned medical doctor, inventor, and surgeon specializing in anti-aging medicine. He recently received a nomination for the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking stem cell research, as well as the Edison Award for the Healthycell nutritional supplement for cell health. He was also awarded the A4M Science & Technology award for his development of the BioMarker Matrix Profile – the first computer program to measure aging.