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What are the Causes of Sudden High Blood Pressure?

What are the Causes of Sudden High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Having hypertension also puts a person at risk of serious complications such as a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, and heart failure to name a few. This is why knowing the causes of sudden high blood pressure or a blood pressure spike is important because it can help people lower their risk of these complications.

What causes high blood pressure in the first place?

causes of sudden high blood pressure

Before we discuss the causes of sudden high blood pressure, we need to talk about hypertension first and what causes it in the first place.

Hypertension happens when the pressure of blood inside the body is higher than normal.

This means that if your blood pressure reading is around 140/90mmHg or higher, then you have hypertension.

It can be caused by a number of things, such as the following:

All of these things can cause a person to suffer from hypertension.

If not managed well, hypertension can lead to heart problems, kidney disease, stroke, heart failure, aneurysms, vascular dementia, and a host of other health problems.

Hypertension is also known as a silent killer, since most people usually don’t feel the effects on their body until they have a serious problem.

What are the possible causes of sudden high blood pressure?

causes of sudden high blood pressure

In some cases, a person’s blood pressure can spike, or suddenly go up without any warning. This is especially dangerous for people who already have hypertension, since it puts them at great risk of complications such as aneurysm, stroke, or a heart attack.

This is also known as a hypertensive crisis.

There are some symptoms that let you know if you’re having a blood pressure spike. Such as the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Coughing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms, legs, or face

If you experience a spike in your blood pressure, be sure to seek emergency help, or take blood pressure medication.

Your doctor would give you advice on what you can do if it happens.

Hypertension: All You Need to Know

It’s also important to be aware of what causes of sudden high blood pressure as this can help you avoid these situations and keep your blood pressure under control.

Here are some of the possible causes:


Stress is a big contributor when it comes to the risk of blood pressure spikes. This is because being under stress can increase a person’s blood pressure. And for someone with hypertension, stress can increase their blood pressure even more, causing it to suddenly spike.

Another contributing factor is that people who are stressed can sometimes develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. This includes smoking, drinking alcohol, and drug use, which are contributors to a blood pressure spike.

This is why it is important for people with hypertension to take some time to relax and destress. It’s also a good idea to look for healthier coping mechanisms such as meditating, exercising, or playing sports to help relieve stress.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Heart Health

Drug use

Stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines also increase a person’s blood pressure. Since these drugs are stimulants, these drugs cause a person’s heart to beat faster, which in turn increases their blood pressure.

If someone with hypertension takes these drugs, then their blood pressure can spike to very dangerous levels. Not to mention constant drug use can also put a lot of strain on the heart.

This is why it is important to avoid using these drugs if you want to stay healthy.


Tobacco contains a chemical called nicotine, which is a stimulant. This means that whenever you smoke, your heart rate goes up, along with your blood pressure.

Smoking is also a known risk factor for heart disease, aneurysm, and heart attacks. So it would be best to quit smoking as soon as possible if you want to stay healthy and avoid blood pressure spikes.


Caffeine is a stimulant that’s found in a lot of drinks. The most common form of caffeine that people take is coffee, but energy drinks can also contain caffeine.

If a person with hypertension drinks coffee, it can cause their heart to beat faster, which in turn increases their blood pressure even more.

This is why people with hypertension should try and avoid drinking coffee as much as possible, as it can lead to more serious problems down the road.

6 Conditions Prevented by Reduced Caffeine Intake

Forgetting your hypertension medication

Hypertension medication is very important when it comes to keeping blood pressure levels under control. Forgetting to take hypertension medication can potentially cause blood pressure to spike, and can lead to a hypertensive crisis.

If you’re under medication, be sure to take the right kind of medication at the right time. Don’t skip your medicines or alter your dosage as this can have a significant effect on your health.

Learn more about hypertension, here.


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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jan 21
Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, M.D.