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Thread: Panic Attacks and Blood Pressure Spikes

  1. #1

    Panic Attacks and Blood Pressure Spikes

    Hi,

    I'm a 27-year-old girl, and am really concerned about how my blood pressure increases during a panic attack. I was wondering if anyone else has a similar reaction? I have a severe phobia of the doctor, and particularly, blood pressure machines. I got a high reading during an attack once and it set off this fear in me of future readings being high. At home, I have an Omron and I check it what I have to admit is pretty obsessively, and when I am calm, it will show a pressure as low as 97/62. I have been keeping a log, even, and it's all been pretty consistent - Top number is always around 97 - 112, while bottom number is always around 60 - 80. Very rarely, usually after I've gone up some stairs or am starting to get anxious, the bottom number will be 82 or 83. At the doctor's, though, it absolutely skyrockets. In the ER for a severe headache that turned out to be anxiety (seriously), my blood pressure was 154/106. I was 24 at the time. The doctor asked me if I had hypertension. I said no, but I don't think he really believed me. They never seem to, possibly because I'm overweight. My regular doctor would always get pressures around 130s-140s top number over 80s bottom number, occasionally 91 or 92 bottom number, with my pulse typically way over 100 - one time it was 134! I get so unbelievably scared before and at these appointments, and my fear just makes it all worse. My fear of a high reading makes a high reading. So, a few months ago, at my first trip to the dentist in years, they took my blood pressure (which I was unprepared for), and told me it was 142/115. They all freaked out, asking about my (non-existent) blood pressure medication that they were certain I must be taking. The thing is, she had my arm at a weird angle (really low and while I was semi-lying down), and while I felt anxious, I didn't feel *that* anxious. The experience kind of traumatized me, I was terrified, and I rushed to the closest clinic asking them to re-check my blood pressure, just to be sure, because I was going to go to the hospital over it. They read it as 146/82, so it had to have been either extreme anxiety or an error. I had thought I was doing better. I had been keeping a nice log at home showing good, low-normal blood pressures. I had an ECHO done and my BP there, in the office, was just 126/56, terribly good for my anxiety. My regular doctor BPs were under 120/80 - it's like I was finally starting to believe I don't have high BP, that anxiety is just increasing it, and was coming to not expect it anymore. But, then, today. I went to the doctor, because I've had some flu-like thing and needed an excuse for work. I took 2mg of Klonopin beforehand, determined to have a good pressure, and was feeling far less anxious than I usually am. When she went to take my BP, I did feel this quick surge of anxiety, but I've felt much worse surges with still-okay BP, so figured it would be fine. As soon as she finishes taking it, she goes, "Do you have high blood pressure?" It was 133/103.
    Nononononono. This set me off all over again. I felt like crying. I asked her to take it again at the end of the visit and it read as 121/91. My spouse is convinced it was just an error with the machine, but at this point, I don't know what to believe. I went home and obsessively used my home machine. I got numbers all over the place, probably because I was officially over-the-top anxious (so much for Klonopin), but it ultimately settled in the same place it always does -108/80. 97/83. 104/75.

    I've always read that it's the systolic number that rises with anxiety and emotions, not the diastolic, but both numbers rise for me, and the diastolic semi-dangerously so. I don't know what to do or think, and I am really scared. Does it matter so long as it just spikes and falls back down, like it did today at the doctor? Does anyone else have this problem/any suggestions? My psychiatrist also prescribed propranolol for my physical symptoms and pulse rate, but I've been scared to take it, especially alongside the Klonopin.

    I'm terrified that the high diastolic spikes has caused or is going to cause an aortic aneurysm (my health anxiety rearing its head). I can't stop worrying about it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    64

    Re: Panic Attacks and Blood Pressure Spikes

    IME, anxiety causes a rise in both numbers. I've even gotten to the point that I have white coat syndrome. I get anxious before the darn test and it goes up. It stinks.

  3. #3

    Re: Panic Attacks and Blood Pressure Spikes

    Thanks for replying. I do the same thing before tests - I've gotten where I panic before doctor's appointments over the mere fact that I know they are going to take my blood pressure. I just worry so much that the spikes I get in those instances 133/103 or 131/118 (!!!!) is causing damage to my aorta or my kidneys or something. When I'm not panicking about blood pressure readings, my bp will actually be low. It's so odd and I don't know what to do. The Klonopin isn't helping at all. I feel so hopeless.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    354

    Re: Panic Attacks and Blood Pressure Spikes

    Had the same problem for years. Therapist told me to stop taking my blood pressure at home, because it was increasing my health fears over my blood pressure, which caused unwanted adrenaline surges, which therefore caused the blood pressure and heart rate spikes, all turning into anxiety or panic for the most part.

    Yeah, well easier said then done, right? I had a hard time trying to stop, but eventually I did over time. And she was right, because I finally figured out that it all went hand in hand by taking my blood pressure at home, just about everyday to where it became a frigin' obsession.

    Lol. Tell how obsessed I was with taking my blood pressure, at first I got a Omron 7 series arm cuff unit and later on a Reli On BP200W wrist unit. And I was thinking about buying one of those little finger units not long after that, before I finally quit taking my blood pressure so much. At least I saved some money at that point, I guess, when I didn't buy the finger unit.

    But yeah, I still have White Coat Syndrome when I go to the docs every once in a while, but my blood pressure doesn't get as high as it use to get when I first noticed it happening in the past. I was focusing on it too much back then.
    __________________
    John Wayne: 'Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.'

  5. #5

    Re: Panic Attacks and Blood Pressure Spikes

    I just now saw your reply - thanks for chiming in. Itís so awful. It helps just knowing Iím not alone, but Iím so convinced that Iíve caused permanent damage from the spikes. Iím tempted to go to a screening for aortic aneurysm, but itís usually for males over 65. Iím 27! But, Iíve convinced myself the spikes have caused this, or will cause kidney damage, and on, and on. I donít know what to do. Iím obsessed, too. I wonder constantly if my bp is high, and keep a log of my readings.

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