It’s normal for your older family member’s blood pressure to go up and down a little during the course of a day. For example, if they are exercising, their blood pressure will respond by going up. Other things like stress and how much sleep they got can also affect blood pressure. However, when blood pressure fluctuates quite a bit and results in different readings over several doctor visits, it can signify a problem. Your older family member might have a condition called labile hypertension.
What Is Labile Hypertension?
Labile hypertension refers to blood pressure readings that change quite a bit through the course of the day. While some change is normal, large swings in blood pressure are not. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a division of Harvard Medical School, criteria for determining when a person has labile hypertension have not been established.
To determine if your aging relative has labile hypertension, the doctor may recommend ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. The senior will wear a device that will take their blood pressure every 15 minutes to half an hour during the day and slightly less frequently at night.
They might also suggest that the senior simply take their own blood pressure periodically throughout the day at home. If your aging relative doesn’t own a blood pressure monitor, they should purchase one. Using a public monitor at a pharmacy isn’t likely to provide accurate results as the machine may not be calibrated or not working correctly. After purchasing a monitor, bring it in to the doctor’s office at the senior’s next appointment, so that it can be calibrated to provide accurate readings.
Does Labile Hypertension Cause Symptoms?
There may be no symptoms of the condition. However, some people report feeling symptoms when their blood pressure is elevated, such as:
- Ringing in the ears.
- Heart palpitations.
What Can Cause Labile Hypertension?
There may be several causes of your older family member’s fluctuating blood pressure. Some possible causes are:
Anxiety: If your older family member suffers from anxiety or is experiencing a high level of stress, their blood pressure may go up. This can also occur only in the doctor’s office, which is referred to as white coat syndrome.
Masked Hypertension: In some cases, people have normal blood pressure when they are at a doctor’s appointment, but their levels are higher at home.
Medication Schedule: Sometimes blood pressure rises as blood pressure medications wear off. The doctor might change medications to ones that are taken once per day and last longer. Or, they could suggest a change in the timing of medications.
Home care can assist with managing fluctuating blood pressure in several ways. One thing that home care can do is to remind your older family member to take their blood pressure medications according to schedule. Home care providers can also help seniors to monitor their blood pressure at home by assisting them to put the cuff on correctly and writing down the results of the reading.