Can High Blood Pressure Make You Tired?

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the blood as it pumps through the arteries. It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day depending on your activities. But if blood pressure remains elevated for extended periods of time, it can lead to health problems.

An estimated 47% of adults in the United States have high blood pressure (hypertension) and many people take medication for the condition. Sometimes referred to as the "silent killer," there are usually few, if any, symptoms of high blood pressure. But if it is left untreated, it can increase the risk of heart disease or stroke.

Contributing Factors to Tiredness That Can Cause High Blood Pressure - Illustration by Dennis Madamba

Verywell / Dennis Madamba

Excessive daytime sleepiness or tiredness is a symptom sometimes associated with high blood pressure, and it has been shown to be a potential warning sign for cardiac events. High blood pressure may also be linked to tiredness in other ways, such as sleep disturbances.

This article will discuss the association between high blood pressure and tiredness, when you should see a healthcare provider, and how to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and related fatigue.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure?

A blood pressure reading involves two numbers: The top number measures systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries. Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) is the measure of pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic, usually spoken as "120 over 80." High blood pressure is defined by the following stages:

High blood pressure stage
 Normal  120/80 mmHg or lower  
 Elevated  120–129 mmHg/80 mmHg or less  
 Stage 1 hypertension (mild)  130–139 mmHg systolic or diastolic is 80–89 mmHg  
 Stage 2 hypertension (Moderate)  140/90 mmHg or higher  
 Hypertensive crisis (seek emergency care)  180/120 mmHg or higher  

Can High Blood Pressure Make You Tired?

High blood pressure typically causes no physical symptoms. The only reliable way to know you have high blood pressure is to have it measured by a healthcare provider. Some health-tracking devices can also signal if your blood pressure is high.

Some people with high blood pressure complain of fatigue. This may be due to the condition itself. If left untreated, the pressure against blood vessel walls can cause unseen damage. This damage can lead to severe health issues, including stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.

More often, tiredness related to high blood pressure is due to other contributing factors at play, including:

Blood Pressure Medication

If you receive a high blood pressure diagnosis, healthcare providers will likely prescribe medications to help manage your condition. They also may encourage healthy lifestyle changes.

Tiredness is a common side effect associated with certain blood pressure medications, such as beta-blockers. That's because some drugs work by causing the heart to beat slower, which slows the flow of energizing oxygen and nutrients to the body's tissues.

Stress

Stress causes hormone changes that are known to raise blood pressure. If stress is chronic, it can contribute to the development of high blood pressure or worsen existing high blood pressure. It also can take a toll on your health in other ways that can contribute to feelings of tiredness.

For instance, the American Psychological Association reports that chronic stress can disrupt sleep patterns, trigger hormone imbalances, and change brain chemistry—all changes that can lead to fatigue.

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes breathing to stop repeatedly throughout the night. About 26% of American adults between the ages of 30 and 70 experience sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as cause daytime sleepiness or tiredness.

The relationship between sleep apnea and high blood pressure is not fully understood, but it's thought that the condition may activate the body's stress response system, which raises blood pressure. Treating sleep apnea with a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure, a breathing device meant to be worn during sleep) can help manage blood pressure.

Other sleep disturbances such as insomnia are also linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure.

Complications of Untreated High Blood Pressure

If high blood pressure is not diagnosed or controlled, the pressure against blood vessel walls can cause unseen damage. Tiredness may be an early symptom of this damage, which can also lead to severe health issues, including the following:

When to Seek Medical Attention

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because many people don’t know that they have the condition. Typically, there are no symptoms or warning signs.

The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly during your routine healthcare appointments. If you have a family history of high blood pressure or are at higher risk, you may benefit from using an at-home blood pressure monitor or tracking device.

If you are experiencing consistent tiredness or fatigue that you think may be related to high blood pressure or your blood pressure medication, talk to your healthcare provider.

Seek immediate medical attention if tiredness worsens or you are experiencing other physical symptoms, including blood spots in the eyes, nosebleeds, dizziness, flushing, and chest pains.

Prevention

There are a number of lifestyle strategies that are known to prevent high blood pressure, including the following:

  • Quit or avoid smoking
  • Eat plenty of healthy, antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Manage stress levels
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly (30 minutes or more a day)
  • Limit alcohol and avoid recreational drugs

It's important to contact your healthcare provider before making any significant dietary or exercise changes. They can advise you on safety based on your circumstances and help you make a plan that is right for you.

Summary

Tiredness is often associated with high blood pressure. However, high blood pressure usually causes no physical symptoms. As such, tiredness is more likely to be caused by side effects of blood pressure medications, and other conditions linked to high blood pressure, such as stress, sleep apnea, or complications of high blood pressure, including heart disease. Seek medical attention if tiredness persists or worsens.

A Word From Verywell

Excessive tiredness can significantly impact your quality of life, so it's natural to want to get to the root of the problem.

If you suspect your fatigue is associated with high blood pressure, be sure to make an appointment to see your healthcare provider. They can help you get an accurate diagnosis or discuss alternative treatments that may work better for you.

High blood pressure is a condition that can be effectively managed with diet, exercise, and medication, but it's important to have a treatment plan and to stay on top of the condition to prevent damage to your blood vessels and heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I combat fatigue from high blood pressure medication?

    If you are experiencing tiredness as a side effect of blood pressure medication, talk with your healthcare provider. They may be able to change your medication, change the dose of your medication, or offer advice on timing your medication to reduce fatigue.

  • Is tiredness a symptom of high blood pressure?

    There are no physical symptoms or warning signs of high blood pressure. That's why this condition is known as the silent killer. Tiredness can be a side effect of some blood pressure medications or a symptoms of other health conditions related to high blood pressure, including stress and sleep apnea.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Yvelette Stines
Yvelette Stines, MS, MEd, is an author, writer, and communications specialist specializing in health and wellness.