Many people experience blood pressure spikes when they begin an intermittent fasting plan, but it’s not always clear why they occur.
Intermittent fasting causes blood pressure spikes because your body starts to conserve energy during the fasting period.
Your body initially relies on glycogen stores to give your muscles and liver the energy they need.
After fasting, your liver will start to increase production of ketones, which are a type of fuel that your body can store.
Your body will also start to burn fat for fuel.
If you don’t burn fat for fuel, your body has to rely on glycogen stores.
That means your body needs to start burning fat again.
When your body burns fat, it releases a hormone called leptin, which signals your brain that you’re hungry.
That’s why the feeling of hunger can be so intense after the first two days of intermittent fasting.
The first few days of intermittent fasting might also cause a spike in blood glucose, which causes your blood sugar levels to rise.
But once you get used to your body’s new normal, the spike in blood glucose levels tends to go away once your body gets used to not having glucose for fuel.
How long does it take to see the effects of intermittent fasting on blood pressure?
After you’ve fasted for a few days to get used to the idea of not eating, you’re going to experience a small spike in blood pressure.
A blood pressure spike may occur for the first few days of intermittent fasting, or it might not happen for several weeks.
Typically, it takes anywhere from one to three weeks for your blood pressure to plateau.
If your blood pressure spikes again after the plateau, you might need to give your body more time to adjust to intermittent fasting.
You can try the following strategies to help your blood pressure stabilize:
- Reduce your caffeine and sugar intake.
- Increase activity.
- Increase your salt intake.
- Eat more protein and fiber.
- Use over-the-counter blood pressure medications.
When to see a doctor?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it might be a sign that your blood pressure is too high:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
If your blood pressure is abnormally high, it’s especially important to get regular checkups.
Your doctor can do a complete physical exam, and they may order blood tests to check for any underlying conditions or problems.
They can also do a more thorough blood pressure reading to make sure you’re not having an artificial increase.
How is blood pressure measured?
A blood pressure reading is a measurement of how hard your blood pushes against your artery walls.
The most commonly used blood pressure reading is called systolic blood pressure.
It’s the measurement taken when your heart is beating, or contracting.
The second most common blood pressure reading is called diastolic blood pressure.
It’s the measurement taken when your heart is at rest.
Your doctor may also use other blood pressure measurements, including:
- The mean arterial pressure. This is the weighted average of your systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings.
- Pulse pressure. This is your systolic blood pressure minus your diastolic blood pressure.
- Systolic and diastolic blood pressure ratio. This is a measure of how your systolic blood pressure compares to your diastolic blood pressure.
What are the potential complications of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can increase your risk of serious health problems.
It can lead to:
- Heart attacks. High blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels in your heart. This can cause them to break, which can lead to a heart attack.
- Strokes. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or reduced. This can also cause a heart attack.
- Kidney damage. When the kidney is damaged, it can no longer remove waste from your body. This can lead to serious health problems, such as kidney disease, and even death.
- Strokes. High blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels in your brain. This can cause them to break, which can lead to stroke.
How is high blood pressure treated?
Treating high blood pressure depends on the severity of your condition.
Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that will help you manage your blood pressure.
At first, you may need to take medications to help lower your blood pressure.
For example, you can take a combination of beta-blockers and diuretics to reduce the amount of sodium and water in your kidneys. This helps your body get rid of extra sodium and water, which can slow the progression of high blood pressure.
Your doctor may also give you a diuretic or beta-blocker to help lower the number of blood vessels that are damaged. This helps your body get rid of extra fluid.
If your blood pressure doesn’t respond to these treatments, you may need to take a blood pressure medication that can lower your blood pressure. These medications are called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
Some people may need to take a combination of drugs to treat high blood pressure.
How can I lower my blood pressure?
If you have high blood pressure, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help lower it.
- Getting more physical activity
- Eating a balanced diet
- Reducing your sodium and potassium intake
- Avoiding or reducing the amount of salt in your food
- Reducing your alcohol intake
- Avoiding or reducing your caffeine intake
- Reducing stress
If you smoke, quitting may help reduce your blood pressure and heart rate, too.
What are the possible complications of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can increase your risk of:
- Heart disease. High blood pressure can cause hardened arteries, which can lead to heart disease.
- Stroke. High blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels in your brain and cause a stroke.
- Kidney disease. High blood pressure can damage your kidney’s ability to remove waste from your blood, which can lead to kidney disease.
Can I prevent high blood pressure?
You can lower your risk of high blood pressure by making some small changes to your lifestyle.
The American Heart Association recommends that people with high blood pressure:
- Drink less than 2.5 cups of caffeinated coffee or 240 milliliters of caffeinated soda each day.
- Limit or avoid alcohol.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Eat less salt.
- Avoid or limit salt substitutes.
If you’re overweight, losing weight may help lower your blood pressure.
Your doctor can help you create a weight loss plan that’s right for you.
The American Heart Association also recommends that you:
- Limit your salt intake.
- Eat more potassium-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and high-potassium foods like beans and tomatoes.
- Eat less saturated fat.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Avoid or limit your caffeine intake.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
You should also make sure that you maintain a healthy body weight.
What’s the outlook for people with high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is common. In most people, it’s not a cause for concern.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor can treat it with medication or lifestyle changes.
Many people with high blood pressure don’t need treatment. In fact, some people with high blood pressure have no symptoms.
If you have high blood pressure on an ongoing basis, your doctor can create a treatment plan for you.
The earlier you treat high blood pressure, the better. The more you control it, the less likely it is to cause health problems.
Talk with your doctor if you have high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you can lower your risk of complications by treating it and making small changes to your lifestyle.
Key take-home points
High blood pressure is a condition in which the pressure of your blood is higher than normal. High blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
There are several ways to treat high blood pressure. Your doctor can help you create a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Most people won’t experience a spike in blood pressure when they start an intermittent fasting plan.
If you do experience a blood pressure spike, it’s probably because your body is experiencing some stress.
Intermittent fasting causes stress because you’re not getting enough nutrients.
But eating more food can put your body in a constant state of stress because it’s not getting the nutrition it needs to function well.
If you find that your blood pressure spikes are a big problem for you, consider working with your healthcare provider to develop a blood pressure management plan for you.
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