Labile high blood pressure is characterized by sudden and ongoing fluctuations in blood pressure raising from a normal reading to a high at different times of the day. In some individuals morning blood pressure is fairly good at say 120/72mm Hg and then spiking to 170/105mm Hg by midday and perhaps falling again at night after a meal. Blood pressure spiking in labile high blood pressure patients can be sharp and measuring greater than 180/100mm Hg.
Labile Hypertension Causes
Labile high blood pressure has been linked in some people to a tumor called pheochromocytoma a tumor originating from the adrenal glands' chromaffin cells. It results in the overproduction of catecholamines which are powerful hormones that induce high blood pressure and other symptoms. It is however a rare condition of this tumor which is thought to affect a mere 700 people in the United States yearly.
The presence of the tumor is established through urine and blood sample tests. when doctors detect nothing they usually assume the cause of labile high blood pressure to be unknown just as in causes of hypertension of stable hypertension.
Another reason for labile high blood pressure is white coat hypertension. This usually refers to doctor's office readings of blood pressure which are higher than home blood pressure readings as a result of anxiety of being in a doctor's office. This usually means a blood pressure reading taken at home in the morning before leaving for the doctor's office will be significantly lower than what comes up at the doctor's office. The reading falls yet again as one returns home making the visit to the doctor's office a cause of blood pressure spike.
Apart from white coat hypertension and the adrenaline tumor, labile hypertension is very much associated with emotional responses in individuals and anesthesia for some. Severe reduction of arterial pressure can occur during anesthesia for some people. Consumption of caffeine is also associated with sudden blood pressure spikes. There is ongoing debate on the link between caffeine and high blood pressure.
Excess sodium consumption is also a possible cause of this subtype of hypertension. A significant number of people have remarkable salt sensitivity which causes blood pressure spikes at the consumption of a high sodium meal for example. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a daily sodium intake of 2300mg yet most people eat as much as 5400mg per day mostly in processed foods. Modern day stress loads have been shown to result in stress induced hypertension which might register as labile high blood pressure.
For some people especially the elderly in the 60 plus year range, food intake may cause blood pressure to drop from normal to low or from a abnormally high to an abnormally low blood pressure reading. Medically this drop is explained by blood rushing to the intestines to facilitate absorption of digested food some 30 to 70 minutes after a meal.
Labile Hypertension Symptoms
Generally labile high blood pressure may show no symptoms as the fluctuations occur. However when the average blood pressure in the midst of these fluctuations is high enough individuals may experience the usual symptoms of high blood pressure such as headache, dizziness, weakness and others. In fact labile hypertension may have the same end points as stable chronic hypertension which includes stroke, heart disease and heart failure. From that perspective labile high blood pressure is equally dangerous. Organ damage may also occur in some patients and the condition may even lead to chronic disability.
Labile Hypertension Treatment
Due to the different mentioned causes of this type of high blood pressure, conventional hypertension medications may not be as effective. Many of the blood pressure treatment drugs available on the market today often over or under control the condition. This is apart from the vast hypertension medication side effects. Doctors would rather prescribe anti-anxiety medications and other stress relieving medications than the in effective anti-hypertensive drugs.
Doctors recommend home blood pressure monitoring for all individuals. Best monitors are those that are calibrated and clinically tested by leading hypertension institutions in Europe and the United States. As a bonus its good to go for one that also detects irregular heartbeat and morning hypertension. Should you think its time to replace or invest in a new blood pressure monitor you may consider this list of blood pressure monitors with reviews.