3 Ways to Handle Temporary Blood Pressure Spikes

Did you know that even adults whose blood pressure is usually within the healthy range (below 120/80 mmHG, according to the American Heart Association) can experience brief episodes of high blood pressure (hypertension)? Anxiety is one reason for a temporary increase in blood pressure, as is eating salty foods and drinking caffeinated beverages.

While an occasional increase in blood pressure above your average reading is not usually a cause for alarm, over time, frequent (such as daily) spikes can cause damage to your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys, just as chronically high blood pressure can wreak havoc in these areas.

Unlike many people with chronic high blood pressure, those dealing with sudden spikes in blood pressure often have unpleasant symptoms--they may feel their heart race or blood pulse. If this sounds familiar, here are three steps you can take to lower spikes in blood pressure caused by foods or anxiety:

  1. Relax. Take a few deep breaths: Relaxation promotes the widening, or dilation, of your blood vessels, decreasing your blood pressure.
  2. Go for a walk. Taking a leisurely stroll, especially after eating salty foods, also helps dilate your blood vessels. Getting regular exercise (at least 30 minutes a day on most days) can help prevent or control high blood pressure over time.
  3. Try yoga and meditation. These practices can help you relax and may even lower your systolic (the top number) blood pressure by 5 mm/Hg or more.

Prevent High Blood Pressure

You can also help stave off chronic high blood pressure in several ways, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet. Your diet should include whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts and reduced amounts of fats, red meats, sweets, and salt (less than 2,400 milligrams per day, about one teaspoon).
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Limiting alcohol intake.If you drink alcoholic beverages, stick to a moderate amount: at most one drink for women or two drinks for men a day.


Sheldon G. Sheps, MD. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): My Blood Pressure Measurements at Home Are Always Than at My Doctor's Office. Am I Doing Something Wrong?" Mayo Clinic. March 22, 2013.

Mayo Clinic. "High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)." Mayo Clinic. July 7, 2015.

"Understanding Blood Pressure Readings." American Heart Association. Content last reviewed August 4, 2014.