Does High Blood Pressure Cause Fatigue?

A blood pressure monitor with a systolic number of 152 and a diastolic number of 96. This represents a high blood pressure reading. The pulse is 89.
  • One in every three American adults (68 million) have high blood pressure.
  • Systolic blood pressure measures the force the heart exerts on the walls of the arteries each time it beats. Diastolic blood pressure measures the force the heart exerts on the walls of the arteries in between beats
  • Your blood pressure can be normal, high, or low, and there are six different blood pressure ranges.
  • If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause many problems, including fatigue, enlarged heart, heart failure, and kidney damage.
  • To prevent high blood pressure, focus on lifestyle factors you can change.
  • You should implement good lifestyle choices, like maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol intake.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most prevalent health conditions Americans face. It can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and also give rise to other diseases, such as diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every three American adults (68 million) has high blood pressure, and nearly 20% of cases are undiagnosed.

In this article, we’ll cover high blood pressure, what it looks like, what causes it, how to prevent it, and how it may be linked to fatigue.

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Blood pressure typically goes up and down throughout the day.

Key Point: Difference Between Arteries and Veins

Arteries: Carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart and lungs to your body's tissues.

Veins: Take oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.

Difference Between Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure

Both systolic and diastolic pressures are equally important for monitoring heart health. However, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to higher systolic pressures than diastolic pressures.

Systolic Blood Pressure

This is the top number on your blood pressure reading. It measures the force of blood against the artery walls produced by the heart when the ventricles squeeze blood out to the rest of your body

Key Point: What Are Ventricles?

Ventricles are muscular chambers that pump blood out of the heart, through your blood vessels, and into your circulatory system.

Diastolic Blood Pressure

Diastolic pressure is the bottom number on your blood pressure reading. It measures the residual force of blood against your artery walls as your heart relaxes and the ventricles are allowed to refill with blood.

Key Point: What is Diastole?

Diastole is the phase in the cardiac cycle during which the heart relaxes and allows blood to fill each atrium and each ventricle.

What Are the Different Blood Pressure Ranges?

High blood pressure is also referred to as hypertension, and low blood pressure is called hypotension. There are six different ranges of blood pressure levels:

Range Systolic Reading Diastolic Reading
Hypotension (low blood pressure)* 90 or less 60 or less
Normal Blood Pressure Less than 120 80
Elevated Blood Pressure 120-129 Less than 80
High Blood Pressure Hypertension (Stage 1) 130-139 80-89
High Blood Pressure Hypertension (Stage 2) At least 140 At least 90
Hypertensive crisis Higher than 180 Higher than 120
  • Your doctor may diagnose low blood pressure by checking systolic and diastolic numbers, along with evaluating your symptoms and age and what medications you’re taking. By nature of this definition, performance athletes and some very healthy individuals may be considered to have low blood pressure — but in these groups, low blood pressure is not usually a concern and does not pose any health risks.

Coronary Artery Disease

High blood pressure can lead to damaged or narrow blood vessels, which can make it hard for blood to flow. In addition to fatigue, other signs of coronary artery disease can include:

  • Angina: pain or tightness of the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the arms or shoulders
  • Arrhythmias: an irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling of the legs (edema)

Can High Blood Pressure Make You Tired?

There may be a link between fatigue and high blood pressure. However, high blood pressure is known as the silent killer because people may not know they have it until it’s too late.

Some people suffer from high blood pressure for years before they are diagnosed, and they continue to live their lives. However, over time high blood pressure can cause significant damage to your cardiovascular system, leading to fatigue.

If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause severe health conditions. The danger of high blood pressure is that it can cause cardiovascular complications that make it hard to breathe, move, exercise, and function.

Let's take a look at a few health conditions associated with high blood pressure and which of them cause fatigue.

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Enlarged Heart and Heart Failure

High blood pressure means that your heart has to work even harder to pump blood around your body. Since it's a muscle, it does more work and gets bigger, causing an enlarged heart.

The bigger your heart becomes, the more oxygen it will need. However, combined with high blood pressure, your heart will struggle to function and you may experience increased fatigue over time.

Kidney Disease

High blood pressure can damage your kidneys by reducing their blood supply and preventing them from functioning properly. This makes it hard for the kidneys to remove waste from the blood. In the long run, high blood pressure can cause kidney failure.

Peripheral Arterial Disease

The arteries in your limbs, stomach, and head can get narrower because of high blood pressure.

Peripheral arterial disease has symptoms other than fatigue, including:

  • Tingling or numbness in your lower legs or feet
  • Slow-healing sores on your legs or feet
  • Pain in your calves when you walk

What Are the Contributing Factors to High Blood Pressure?

There are many factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, including:

  • Stress: Stress can make your blood pressure rise normally for a short period. However, blood pressure can stay increased with chronic stress.

  • Age: There is a greater chance of having high blood pressure as you get older.

  • Obesity or lack of exercise: The more you weigh, the more blood that is needed to get oxygen and nutrients to your body's cells and other parts.

Having a high heart rate is more common in less active people. The higher your heart rate goes, the more work your heart has to do with each contraction.

  • Tobacco use: Smoking or chewing tobacco raises your blood pressure immediately. The chemicals in tobacco can also damage the lining of your artery walls.

  • Heavy drinking or alcohol abuse: One drink a day for women and two a day for men may raise blood pressure.

  • Excessive intake of salt (sodium): In some — but not all — people, excess sodium in food can cause the body to hold on to water, increasing blood pressure.

  • Lack of potassium: Potassium helps you keep the amount of sodium in your cells balanced. Having the right amount of potassium is very important for optimal heart health.

  • Race: People of African descent have a higher risk of heart problems, such as high or low blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure.

How Can Fatigue Contribute to High Blood Pressure?

The effects can also be seen on the flip side. Feeling fatigued and not getting enough rest can potentially contribute to high blood pressure. Some common causes of fatigue that affect your blood pressure, include:

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is the body's way of recharging.

According to the CDC, adults need seven or more hours of sleep each night. However, more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

You are at risk of certain heart problems, especially high blood pressure, if you don't get enough sleep. Your mood may also change, and you may have trouble with your memory and concentration.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. It causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep.

Even though it is more common in adult men as well as women who have gone through menopause, OSA can occur in children and in adults of all ages.

Obstructive sleep apnea cuts back on how much sleep you get, which can cause your body to work unusually hard and raise your blood pressure.

How Do You Prevent High Blood Pressure?

There are some factors beyond your control that put you at risk for high blood pressure, such as:

  • Your age
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Ethnicity

When it comes to preventing high blood pressure, the idea is to focus on the risk factors you can control. By adopting the following healthy lifestyle choices, you can help lower your blood pressure:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Cutting back on salt (this mostly applies to people whose blood pressure is impacted by sodium intake)
  • Exercising regularly
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Managing stress levels
  • Monitoring your blood pressure
A woman in a red workout tank, an ipod on her arm, and earbuds in her ears smiles as she jogs or speed walks outside.

Where Can I Learn More About High Blood Pressure?

People with high blood pressure often experience little to no symptoms to indicate there’s something wrong.

However, in some cases, fatigue might be a sign that you have high blood pressure or that your high blood pressure has developed into something more serious.

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms that we’ve covered in this article, or want to learn more about high blood pressure medications, you can talk to a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner right from home. Make an appointment at LifeMD today.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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