Under normal circumstances, your blood pressure should actually be lower after eating, and there’s a very simple reason why.1
The body is very cleverly designed so that blood flows to where it’s needed most. For example, when you exercise, blood flow (and the oxygen it carries) is redirected to muscles.
After you’ve eaten, blood flow is directed to the gastrointestinal system (stomach and intestines) to help with digestion.1,3 As a result, blood pressure temporarily drops elsewhere in the body, until things get re-adjusted to compensate for the decrease. Blood vessels not involved in the digestive process are ‘instructed’ to constrict (become narrower), and the heart beats faster, in an attempt to bring blood pressure back to the normal level.3
In some people, the drop in blood pressure lasts a long time after eating. It’s what doctors call postprandial hypotension.3 Prandial is a Latin term for eating, so postprandial simply means after eating. Hypotension is the opposite of hypertension, so it refers to low blood pressure. Postprandial is more likely to occur in people who usually have elevated blood pressure.3
When should I take my blood pressure?
If you’re monitoring your blood pressure at home, it’s best done before a meal, to avoid giving you and your doctor a misleading reading.
Blood pressure (BP) fluctuates throughout the day (and night), so doctors recommend that you try and take your blood pressure at the same time each day.3
But there are other things to try and avoid before you measure BP. For example:
- Don’t take a reading immediately after exercise, it will probably be higher1
- Don’t take a reading after smoking or drinking alcohol3
- Make sure you go to the bathroom first – a full bladder can give you an elevated reading1
- Avoid stress and rushing. You should be in a relaxed state when you take a BP reading1
- When home monitoring, it’s important to be sitting comfortably and rest the arm (with the cuff on it) on a flat surface (table or desk) so that cuffed upper arm is in line with the heart3
If you don’t currently monitor your blood pressure at home, read this article about ‘Why is it important to monitor blood pressure at home’. It tells you all the benefits. But long story short, measuring your blood pressure at home can help in two ways:4
- Firstly, it can help your doctor diagnose high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
- Secondly, if you’ve already been diagnosed, self-monitoring can help get your blood pressure (BP) under control.
Good quality, certified home blood pressure monitors are accurate, very easy to use, and above all, quite affordable. You can check out the Heart Sure option here.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use. For people with high blood pressure. Consult your doctor to evaluate the readings. Check your device periodically for accuracy.