(from WebMD Sept 2019)

You’ve probably heard
to watch the amount of salt you eat, especially if you’re concerned about your
blood pressure. That’s because it makes your body hold on to water, putting
extra stress on your heart and blood vessels. Salt — and worry, and anger —
aren’t the only things that can raise your blood pressure. Although temporary
“spikes” aren’t necessarily a problem, numbers that remain high over
time can cause serious damage.

Added SugarIt may be even more important
than salt in raising your blood pressure, especially in a processed form like
high-fructose corn syrup. People with more added sugars in their diet see a
significant rise in both their upper and lower numbers. Just one 24-ounce soft
drink causes an average 15-point bump in systolic pressure (the top number, or
the pressure during a heartbeat) and 9 in diastolic (the bottom number, or the
pressure between beats).

Loneliness  – This isn’t just about the number of friends you have — it’s about
feeling connected. And being stressed or depressed doesn’t fully explain the
effect. It also gets worse with time: Over 4 years, the upper blood pressure of
the loneliest people in a study went up more than 14 points. The researchers
think an ongoing fear of rejection and disappointment and feeling more alert
about your safety and security may change how your body works.

Sleep ApneaPeople with sleep apnea have
higher odds of getting high blood pressure and other heart problems. When your
breathing is repeatedly interrupted while you’re sleeping, your nervous system
releases chemicals that raise your blood pressure. Plus, you’re getting less
oxygen, which could damage blood vessel walls and make it harder for your body
to regulate your blood pressure down the road.

Not Enough PotassiumYour kidneys need a balance of
sodium and potassium to keep the right amount of fluid in your blood. So even
if you’re eating a low-salt diet, you could still have higher blood pressure if
you’re not also eating enough fruits, veggies, beans, low-fat dairy, or fish.
While you may think of bananas as the go-to source, broccoli, water chestnuts,
spinach, and other leafy greens are better to get potassium if you’re watching
your weight.

PainSudden, or acute, pain ramps up
your nervous system and raises your blood pressure. You can see this effect
when you put one hand in ice water, press on your cheek or fingernail, or get
an electric shock to your finger.

Herbal SupplementsDo you take ginkgo, ginseng,
guarana, ephedra, bitter orange, or St. John’s wort? These and others can raise
your blood pressure or change how medications work, including drugs to control
high blood pressure.

Thyroid ProblemsWhen this gland doesn’t make
enough thyroid hormone, your heart rate slows, and your arteries get less
stretchy. Low hormone levels also might raise your LDL “bad”
cholesterol, another thing that can stiffen arteries. Blood moves through hard
vessels faster, pushing on the walls and raising the pressure. Though not as
common, too much thyroid hormone can make your heart beat harder and faster,
which will also bump up your numbers.

You Have to PeeSystolic pressure went up an
average of about 4 points, and diastolic, 3 points, in a study of middle-aged
women who hadn’t gone to the bathroom for at least 3 hours. Men and women of
different ages saw similar effects. High blood pressure becomes more likely as
you age, so you need to get accurate readings. An empty bladder could be one
way to help do that.

NSAIDsAll nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can raise your numbers
— whether you’re healthy or you already have high blood pressure. Though the
average rise is only a few points, there’s a wide range, which means it could
affect some people much more than others.

Your Doctor’s OfficeYou might see a difference if you
compare readings during an appointment to the numbers you get at home. Named
for the traditional garb of medical professionals, the “white coat
effect” is the rise in blood pressure — up to 10 points higher for
systolic (the upper number) and 5 for diastolic (the lower number). DM note –
It is wise to question advice about taking meds based solely on the readings in
the doctor’s office.

DecongestantsIngredients like pseudoephedrine
and phenylephrine can narrow your blood vessels. That means the same amount of
blood has to squeeze through a smaller space, like a crowd pushing through a
hallway. These drugs can also make blood pressure medications less effective.
Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose over-the-counter products for
sinus problems and colds that are safer if you have high blood pressure.

DehydrationWhen your body’s cells don’t have
enough water, your blood vessels tighten up. This happens because your brain
sends a signal to your pituitary gland to release a chemical that shrinks them.
And your kidneys make less pee, to hang on to the fluid you do have, which also
triggers tiny blood vessels in your heart and brain to squeeze more.

Hormonal Birth
Pills, injections, and other
birth control devices use hormones that narrow blood vessels, so it’s possible
your blood pressure will go up. It’s more likely to be a problem for women who
are older than 35, overweight, or smokers. You may want to keep an eye on your
blood pressure, checking every 6-12 months. A lower dose of estrogen may keep
your numbers closer to normal.

TalkingIt happens whether you’re young
or old and no matter where you are. The higher your resting blood pressure, the
higher the numbers go when you start speaking. And the effect lasts for a few
minutes. It seems the subject and emotional content of what you’re saying
matters more than the fact that you’re moving your mouth.

Antidepressants – Medicines that target brain chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin — including venlafaxine (Effexor), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) — can change not only your mood but also your blood pressure. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might raise it if you’re also taking lithium or other drugs that affect serotonin.

Have a great Thanksgving holiday!