Changes of Blood Pressure After Eating

Blood pressure is the pressure that the arterial walls experience as blood pumps through them. The blood pressure varies throughout the day and is affected by other factors as well. Blood pressure after eating, for example, can change. Usually, our body has sophisticated mechanisms to bring the blood pressure back within normal ranges.

How Will Blood Pressure Change After Eating?

In normal people, the blood pressure rises immediately after eating as digestion begins. Oxygen is required for some of the enzymatic processes that take place during digestion. This oxygen comes from the blood. Thus, when foods are consumed, the body begins to increase the cardiac output, which will cause the blood pressure to rise, so that adequate blood can be provided to the digestive system.

Particular food ingredients can also affect blood pressure. Foods that are high in sodium increase the amount of water retention in the body, and cause more pressure on your heart and lungs, making your blood pressure rise. Foods that are rich in fat can change the viscosity of the blood. Thicker blood will require the heart to work harder, resulting in higher blood pressure. Similarly, foods rich in plasma protein can also cause the blood to become thick, thus raising blood pressure levels.

Is This Spike in Blood Pressure Considered Normal?

Yes, this spike is perfectly normal. Once the food digestion process is completed, the blood pressure will come back to normal ranges. 

The blood pressure should return back to normal after approximately two hours, and if it does not, you should see a doctor. Here is a chart for your reference.

Category

Systolic Value (mm Hg)

Diastolic Value (mm Hg)

Low blood pressure

Below 80

Below 60

Normal

80-120

60-80

Pre-Hypertension

120-139

80-89

High B.P (Stage 1 Hypertension)

140-159

90-99

High B.P (Stage 2 Hypertension)

160 or more

100 or more

Decreased Blood Pressure After Eating

Some people can experience a drop in blood pressure after they eat a meal. This condition is called postprandial hypotension. The affected individuals may feel dizzy and lightheadedness after a meal. This is because the heart fails to respond properly after eating a meal. In this condition, more blood flows to the digestive system, causing a reduction in blood pressure of the other parts of the body.

This condition only happens to some people, and it could be the result of a gene mutation, trauma, stroke and aging. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s or nerve damage can also result in decreased blood pressure after consuming something.

How to Deal with Low Blood Pressure After Eating

There are several ways to deal with this problem.

  • The first is to drink several glasses of water before having a meal. Just this simple act alone could be enough to compensate for the drop in blood pressure.
  • It is also advisable to break up the meals into several small ones throughout the day.
  • Include foods that are digested slowly, like lean protein and whole grain, into your diet. Cut down on carbohydrates, processed foods or high fatty foods.
  • Avoid any strenuous physical activity after eating and try to get an hour’s rest after a meal, so that the body can recuperate.

All of these measures will help improve the situation, but it is still essential to see a doctor if you experience low blood pressure after you eat a meal.

Other Factors That Can Affect Your Blood Pressure

Now you know that blood pressure after eating may increase or decrease. It is also important to know other factors that can also affect blood pressure readings. These include:

1. Small Blood Pressure Cuff

You have to make sure that when your blood pressure is measured, the size of cuff fits your arm circumference. If you use a cuff that is too small, it can lead to an error blood pressure reading which will increase 10-40 mm Hg for the systolic result.

2. Cuff Placed over Clothing

It is very important that the cuff of the blood pressure machine is placed directly on the arm and not over clothes. Putting the cuff over clothes can cause the blood pressure readings to increase 10-50 mm Hg.

3. Inadequate Rest Before Measurement

To measure blood pressure accurately, the patient must sit in a comfortable chair for around five minutes before measurement. The atmosphere should be calm and peaceful, and no physical activity should be carried out prior to the measurements.

4. Improper Position

The feet, arms, and the back should be properly positioned while taking the blood pressure measurements. It is estimated that an unsupported back can increase the diastolic measurements by 6 mm Hg, while crossing of the legs will also result in a similar increase. What's more, putting your arms below your heart level will cause a lower reading result. 

5. Heightened Emotions

Stress, anxiety, excitement or any other intense emotional states can affect the blood pressure readings. The blood pressure can spike during this time and may result in a false reading that is much higher than normal. For some people, even the act of taking blood pressure can be a mental trigger and cause inaccurate results.

6. Talking

Talking while doing the measurement can affect the accuracy of readings. Patients may have conversations with the doctor or the nurse without realizing that it can affect the result. Studies have shown that talking can cause a 10 mm Hg spike of the blood pressure readings.

7. Stimulants

Stimulants like coffee or alcohol should not be ingested for at least half an hour before the reading is taken. These are known to cause a spike in the blood pressure.

8. Temperature

The blood pressure tends to rise in cold weathers. If you feel that the doctor’s office is cold, let your doctor know. Blood pressure readings taken in such environment will be inaccurate.

9. Smoking

Nicotine, the main stimulant found in cigarettes, is known to cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. Make sure that no nicotine products are being consumed at least 30 minutes before the measurement is taken.

10. Urge to Urinate

If you have the urge to urinate before a blood pressure readings, then relieve yourself before getting the blood pressure measurement done. A significant increase of 10-15 mm Hg can occur as a result of having a full bladder.

 
 
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