This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in July of 2021. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNGXwRYwgLo&t=4s.
Bob: We’re going to talk about 16 surprising things that raise your blood pressure.
Brad: Yeah, we want to minimize them, Bob.
Bob: Yeah, spoiler alert, some of them aren’t surprising, but some are. So we’ll go over all of those. Okay, let’s talk about the first thing. Sugar. Besides being an inflammatory food, which creates inflammation in the body. You’d be surprised, you find sweeteners in a lot of things. It can raise your blood pressure. In fact, it’s probably more than a lot of other things that you know raise your blood pressure.
Brad: The only good thing about sugar is that it tastes good.
Bob: That’s right.
Brad: I’m serious, I don’t know what else to say about it.
Bob: The more you can limit sugar in your life, the better. Unless it’s the sugar in your relationship, you know?
Brad: You’re killing me, Bob.
Bob: You want to track your blood pressure, which we recommend highly to do because that way you can experiment with what works and what doesn’t work.
Brad: What do you mean what works?
Bob: For example, my wife, she’s sensitive to salt. She takes salt, her blood pressure goes way up.
Brad: She’s done it with self-monitoring.
Bob: Yeah. We have the Bob and Brad blood pressure cuff. The thing about this, is I find a lot of these to be unreliable, and this one was tested, and I’ve used it myself. It’s consistent, it seems good. Our recommendation.
Brad: I was using one that wasn’t reliable. It gave me high blood pressure over a period of weeks. I finally called the doctor and went in, and they monitored me, and I was fine. I had to throw that one away.
Bob: It probably gave you high blood pressure because you were anxious.
Brad: It probably was one of those things.
Bob: Okay. Number two, for me, believe it or not, it was mouth breathing. I first saw this, it was a book you gave me, Brad.
Brad: Breathing. Breath. Breathe. Whatever it’s called.
Bob: Yeah, something like that. They talked about people that they did an experiment with just to guys. I also have seen it in the research where they would close their nostrils up and breathe through their mouth for a month. Then they did it the other way around where they taped their mouth shut. My wife would like that. I do it at night. I was mouth breathing at night and now I tape my mouth shut. My blood pressure went down about 10 points. It was very consistent.
Brad: Did you measure it in the morning?
Bob: I measured it usually in the morning, right.
Brad: Because you’re supposed to measure it at the same time of day, same posture, and positioning.
Bob: It was a drop. It made a difference.
Brad: That’s interesting.
Bob: Number three, caffeine. So, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, this is a good example. You might be fine with it. Your blood pressure maybe doesn’t react to it, but as little as 200 milligrams, which is I think two cups of coffee, that could increase your blood pressure.
Brad: And a cup of coffee doesn’t mean one of those 25-ounce things you get at the convenience store.
Bob: That’s probably about seven cups of coffee. Lack of sleep, we had a lot of videos on this. They’re finding it to be more important than we ever thought, Brad. Everything starts to go to heck when you’re not sleeping.
Brad: To heck in a handbasket.
Bob: That’s right.
Brad: That’s true. Seven to eight hours. I was sleep-deprived over this, I was out camping. I didn’t have my bed to sleep on. I was down to four or five hours of sleep.
Bob: Oh, you were crabby, I bet.
Brad: Yeah, I woke up weird looking too. I couldn’t walk straight. Anyways, I didn’t check my blood pressure though, I should’ve.
Bob: Inactivity. If you are not getting exercise, you know, we’ll give you one more reason to get exercise.
Brad: That makes a big difference. I was tracking mine and aerobic exercise, for me, helps.
Bob: You don’t have to get exercise in that fashion, you can walk your dog, play with your kids, gardening. Get some movement.
Brad: You better believe it.
Bob: Too much alcohol.
Brad: Yeah, I field-tested that, but I’ve never checked it. When you live in Wisconsin, you’re up on that. Bob: The old guideline is women can have one drink a day and men can have two.
Brad: I’m good then.
Bob: Okay, smoking. I give this as an example, Brad, this kid was a nephew of a girl that worked for me, and he was 17 years old. He worked in a sawmill and cut off his finger. They were worried about getting it back on because he was a smoker, and his arteries were so bad already just from smoking at age 17. The narrower your blood vessels, which is going to raise your blood pressure. So, another reason not to smoke, and another reason to exercise. Some of the over-the-counter meds or supplements can also raise your blood pressure. We had Chris the pharmacist on who once warned us about St. John’s wort. He said this thing interferes with a lot of medications.
Brad: Not necessarily St. John’s wort itself, but when you mix it with other meds that you’re taking, then it can be a problem.
Bob: He said, you need to check with your pharmacist before you try anything like that.
Brad: Yeah. Especially if you’re already taking meds, is the big thing.
Bob: This is going back to the sleep thing again. People with sleep apnea have higher blood pressure quite often. That’s where the C-PAP machine can come in handy and help regulate that. Not enough potassium. Your kidneys need a balance of sodium and potassium to keep it right. So, if you’re eating a low salt diet, you can still have high blood pressure if you're not eating enough fruits or veggies or beans.
Brad: You can just google up food with high potassium. You get a whole list.
Bob: Thyroid problems. I know someone close to me that has problems with this. Sometimes you need to take medication for low thyroid and high thyroid.
Brad: Hyper or hypo.
Bob: NSAIDs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin and even ibuprofen can raise your numbers. Keep that in mind.
Brad: Don’t take them chronically. They have other negative effects that could potentially happen so be aware of that. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you’re safe.
Bob: I don’t think my wife will mind if I mentioned she had this next one. It’s the white coat syndrome.
Brad: Oh, when you go to the doctor, your blood pressure is high there, but it’s not at home. Cause you’re nervous about seeing the doctor.
Bob: Right. She complains that she gets there, and she sits down, they check it immediately. You’re supposed to sit for 5 minutes and relax.
Brad: I don’t know if the doctor doesn’t wear a white coat if that helps. Sometimes they don’t.
Bob: Wear a pink coat. All right, dehydration. If you’re not getting enough water, your blood vessels tighten up.
Brad: I was surprised on this one because I thought if you're dehydrated, you get less volume, that it would go down. Or if you have a lot of fluids in your body, then your blood pressure goes up. Like if you have edema and all that.
Bob: I think your body reacts though. I think when there’s not enough fluid in there, your body’s smarter than we are.
Brad: I didn’t mean to ruin your number 15 but, anyways.
Bob: Number 16, hormonal birth control. So, pills, injections, and other birth control devices can narrow blood vessels. Keep that in mind, sometimes your doctor might have to give you a lower dose of estrogen to keep your numbers normal.
Brad: And those things are prescription, and the doctor will address that or hopefully should.
Bob: If they don’t, you should bring it up. There they are, the 16. Keep track of it.
Brad: Would we call it the sweet 16?
Bob: Sure, I like that.
Brad: It is a good idea, especially as you get older, your body’s changing, monitor your blood pressure. I have one in the drawer by my recliner. It’s convenient. When it's convenient you're more likely to do it.
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