What Is Labile Hypertension?

Labile hypertension refers to an abnormal fluctuation in blood pressure.
An individual's blood pressure typically fluctuates throughout the day.
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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 16 December 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Labile hypertension is the fluctuation of blood pressure beyond that which is considered a normal. Blood pressure readings will sometimes be high and sometimes be normal in patients with this disorder. While lifestyle, including exercise, diet, and stress, can account for some of these changes, labile hypertension can occasionally be caused by serious illnesses. As with other problems related to high blood pressure, there are often no symptoms, which is why it is important for blood pressure to be checked frequently.

Patients are said to have hypertension if the systolic blood pressure is higher than 140 or the diastolic blood pressure is above 90. In patients with labile hypertension, the blood pressure will sometimes read at a number above this cut off and will sometimes show as normal. This makes this type of high blood pressure difficult to diagnose because it may not be present while the patient is in the doctor’s office.

It is normal for blood pressure to fluctuate substantially over the course of the day. In many cases, the systolic pressure may fluctuate by 30 points or more and the diastolic by 10 points or more. Heavy exercise and stress can cause dramatic variations in blood pressure. A doctor determines whether the variations experienced by a patient are normal or are indicative of labile hypertension.

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Though this condition is not uncommon, in some cases in can be an indicator of the presence of a serious disease. Eating certain foods, especially foods containing large amounts of sodium, can temporarily increase blood pressure by a significant amount. A tumor in the brain can also be responsible for this type of labile hypertension, though this is an extremely rare condition.

The unstable nature of labile hypertension makes it difficult for doctors to treat the condition with the medications that are usually given for hypertension. Doctors may be reluctant to prescribe these medications because there is a risk of lowering the blood pressure too much. If the condition is believed to have been caused by anxiety, treating the anxiety may allow the blood pressure to return to normal. It may also be possible for a patient to make adjustments to exercise routines and diet that can lower blood pressure and help make the variations in pressure less extreme. Medical professionals may also want to rule out a more serious condition, such as a brain tumor, before beginning conservative treatments.

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