Having blood pressure rising at night is a common concern that affects a considerable number of people. The real issue seems to be that not everyone actually knows why this happens and what to do about it.
Many individuals have reported having their blood pressure starting to rise and heart rate increasing anytime between 4pm and 6pm. Some individuals are perplexed the more because this rise happens even at a time of supposed relaxation after work in front of the TV.
Reports of readings such as 115/70 at a low rising to 177/113 at a high at night have been put up in hypertension forums. These changes typically resemble blood pressure rising from ideal levels to high blood pressure ranges within hours.
The concern with blood pressure rising at night is valid and must be seriously considered. Here is why.
Blood pressure has a daily pattern which is that it dips at night and starts to increase before waking in the morning. The normal routine is for blood pressure to be lower at night and this is refereed to as nocturnal dipping. Individuals who have their blood pressure failing to dip at night are refereed to as nondippers.
Compared to day time blood pressure, a 10% to 20% fall in night blood pressure, both systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) is within what is considered normal. When blood pressure falls by less than 10% at night this is considered abnormal and signals a lack of nocturnal dipping. This is according to a 2010 study entitled Sleep and Hypertension published in the Chest Journal.
The Chest Journal study further highlights the dangers of blood pressure rising at night when it states that a lack of nocturnal dipping is a strong predictor of cardiovascular problems. Another 2000 study commonly referred to as the Ohasama study notes that on average, each 5% deficiency in night time blood pressure dip is associated with about a 20% greater risk of cardiovascular death. This means blood pressure rising at night when its supposed to be dipping should be a matter of serious concern.
Surprising as it maybe, one study has pointed to loneliness as a possible cause of increased blood pressure. Loneliness after work hours when an individual could be alone outside of the daytime social and work relationships and surroundings could possibly result in blood pressure rising at night.
Having company at home, for example, is not a guarantee that one is not lonely. The study published in 2010 in Psychology and Aging journal notes that unsatisfying relationships can also have the same effect on blood pressure as loneliness.
However, important to note is that loneliness results in elevated blood pressure over a period of time which maybe as long as four years. Some individuals complaining of rising blood pressure at night have reported beginning to observe elevated night blood pressure after years of normal nocturnal blood pressure levels.
Apart from possible loneliness, according to studies, blood pressure rising at night is an indicator of underlying diseases such as chronic kidney disease, resistant hypertension, diabetes, nervous system problems, cardiovascular disease and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
A study published 2010 in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine which studied the effects of night shift on blood pressure concluded that a lack of sleep resulted in abnormal night blood pressure.
What was interesting about the study is that it noted this abnormality in participants with a positive family history of high blood pressure. As the night progressed, individuals with a family history of hypertension had elevated diastolic blood pressure even when resting.
There are several risk factors that may result in your blood pressure rising at night. Night shift work is one of them as already shown by the study we alluded to above. Stress and anxiety are also other factors that may result in non-dipping blood pressure at night. Some individuals have found relief through meditation.
Life style related issues such as the use of tobacco also increases the risk of elevated blood pressure at nighttime. Lastly, for individuals on high blood pressure medications, taking medication that does not cover the entire 24-hrs is also a possible cause of nighttime high blood pressure.
While many people conclude they have blood pressure which rises at night based on personal home measurement of blood pressure, to get a professional diagnosis it is important to go under a 24-hour blood pressure monitoring test.
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