What causes labile hypertension? Symptoms and treatment

labile hypertensionThe term labile hypertension refers to fluctuations in your blood pressure. When discussing blood pressure, it is either referred to was being high, low, or normal. Labile hypertension, on the other hand, refers to sudden and ongoing changes in blood pressure that fluctuate far more than usual. It can go from being in the normal range in the morning to being very high in the evening.

Labile hypertension is a decisive diagnosis, with some medical communities believing it has less clinical significance than that of more traditional “fixed” forms of high blood pressure. It is this “fixed” form that most medical professionals find most concerning, as it has been documented to lead to significant adverse effects on health in the long term.


Most medical professionals feel that labile hypertension is generally a symptom of another condition.

Causes of labile hypertension

It is important to understand that it’s normal for blood pressure to rise and drop dynamically throughout the day. These changes may result from a number of things, as we go through many stressors every day. Blood pressure in a healthy person is continually changing in order to meet the needs of our bodies.

However, while some changes are normal, others may signify a more serious problem. The following are some causes of labile hypertension:

Pheochromocytoma: A tumor commonly found in the adrenal gland, more specifically the adrenal glands chromaffin cells. This gland is normally responsible for releasing powerful hormones that change blood pressure. A tumor in this gland results in overproduction of these hypertension induction hormones, leading to sudden spikes in high blood pressure. A simple urine test looking for biomarkers can help diagnose this condition.

White coat hypertension: This happens when visiting your doctor. You’ll have high blood pressure readings in doctors’ offices compared to your home result. This is most likely due to uncontrollable anxiety symptoms

Emotional responses: This may lead to severe reductions in arterial blood pressure. Patients under anesthesia can also experience this form of labile hypertension.

Caffeine: The consumption of this stimulate can lead to sudden spikes in blood pressure.

Salt sensitivity: Some people develop blood pressure spikes when consuming meals containing high sodium levels. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a daily sodium intake of 2300mg, yet most people eat as much as 5400mg per day.

Elderly: In some elderly individuals, the consumption of food can lead to significant drops in blood pressure. It is thought that blood rushing to the intestines to aid in food digestion is responsible for this.

Symptoms of labile hypertension

Labile hypertension, in general, does not present with any symptoms during fluctuation, but if the normal resting pressure remains high, the typical signs of high blood pressure may be experienced by the affected individual. These symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

As with chronic cases of high blood pressure, years of poor management may lead to stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.

Treating labile hypertension

Due to the fact that labile hypertension is usually caused by underlying conditions, commonly used blood pressure medication may not be effective.


Depending on your specific case, your doctor may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or other stress-relieving therapies to better regulate your blood pressure.

Other forms of therapy to help manage cases of labile hypertension include regular aerobic activity, quitting smoking, reducing salt intake, and ongoing stress management.

It is also important to constantly monitor your blood pressure to with accurate blood pressure equipment. Many wrist-worn devices are available to make this quite achievable.

Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.


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