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Can Anxiety Cause Blood Pressure To Rise

Things That Can Increase Your Risk Of Getting High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Facts : Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

You might be more at risk if you:

  • are overweight
  • eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • do not do enough exercise
  • drink too much alcohol or coffee
  • smoke
  • do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
  • are over 65
  • have a relative with high blood pressure
  • are of black African or black Caribbean descent
  • live in a deprived area

Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.

Anxiety And Heart Disease

The association between anxiety and heart disease has not been as fully studied as the relationship between depression and heart disease.

However, Una D McCann, M.D., director of the Anxiety Disorders Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, believes the connection is strong.

Fortunately There Are More Than A Dozen Med

As a psychologist who trains therapists around the country in new ways to combat anxiety, I have become interested in the relationship between anxiety and high blood pressure.

Which causes which? And can treatments for one help with the other? Heres the latest that I’ve found in my search for answers.

Does anxiety cause high blood pressure?

The answer seems to be complex: No and yes.

Sheldon Sheps, M.D., writes for the Mayo Clinic that, Anxiety doesn’t cause long-term high blood pressure . But episodes of anxiety can cause dramatic, temporary spikes in your blood pressure. If those temporary spikes occur frequently, such as every day, they can cause damage to your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys, as can chronic high blood pressure.” So even though anxiety may not cause chronic high blood pressure, it can cause similar health problems.

Dr. Sheps adds a warning about a second way in which anxiety can damage cardiovascular health. Because of their sedating side-effects, physicians may prescribe anti-depressants to lower anxiety. Unfortunately, these drugs, known as serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors , can increase your blood pressure.

Ultimately, if you are experiencing too much anxiety, it’s best to do something to reduce itboth for health reasons and because, frankly, anxiety feels unpleasant.

Does high blood pressure cause anxiety?

Probably not directly.

Can treatments for one hurt the other?

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The Importance Of Controlling Stress And Anxiety

Now, the caveat to all of this is that stress especially long-term stress does damage your body. Frequent panic attacks are unhealthy, especially if you do suffer from any disease, like heart disease, which is exacerbated by stress.

So while anxiety and panic attacks can lead to large temporary spikes in blood pressure, that isn’t the concern. The concern is that living with anxiety is difficult, and living with stress in the long term is unhealthy. That’s why it’s important to make sure you take action to control your anxiety.

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Can Anxiety Treatment Cause High Blood Pressure

Can High Blood Pressure Cause Anxiety?

Yes. Some medications used for treatment of anxiety can lead to increased blood pressure when taken alone or in combination with other medications. These include:

After prescribing medication for anxiety, your physician will monitor you closely to determine if there are significant changes in your blood pressure.

Physicians take special care to avoid prescribing medications that can cause high blood pressure to those who already have a diagnosis of hypertension. This is why it is important to remind your doctor about any personal or family history of high blood pressure, so that they can select the safest medication for you.

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How Does Stress Affect Your Blood Pressure

In a stressful situation, your body reacts by releasing a surge of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood. These hormones are responsible for the fight or flight response. They make your heart beat faster and your blood vessels narrower, raising your blood pressure.

This effect on your blood pressure only lasts a short time. Once the stressful situation is over your blood pressure returns to its usual level.

Treating Anxiety: Medication And Therapy

There are several approved treatments for anxiety that you should consider, and in many cases it will be recommended that you employ more than one for the most effective anxiety management.

Lets start with prescription medications, which are generally considered the go-to solution these days. Typically, the primary medication for treating anxiety disorders are actually antidepressants.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most often prescribed, but other medications like SNRIs will sometimes be employed if SSRIs are ineffective.

Theres also therapy, which is frequently recommended as a parallel treatment with medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps anxiety disorder sufferers to recognize their disordered thought patterns, which may otherwise let anxiety control your life.

CBT can create coping strategies to mitigate future anxiety or panic attacks. For more, check out our guide, What Is Psychotherapy & How Does It Work?.

Healthcare providers may also ask you to address diet, regular exercise and even substance abuse or alcohol intake issues, which may be making your anxiety worse addressing those issues could alleviate some anxiety symptoms, including blood pressure issues.

The link between anxiety and cardiovascular diseases may not be perfect, but its more than enough to tell us that anxiety isnt good for your health, long or short term.

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Chronic Stress And Blood Pressure

How chronic stress affects blood pressure is less known, says Dr. Laffin. While recent data suggests that our bodies might tend to release more stress hormones with prolonged stress, its also about how stress affects our lifestyle habits and choices that can lead to higher blood pressure.

People who experience chronic stress tend to sleep more poorly, not exercise as much and make bad dietary choices, he says. This leads to higher blood pressure and increased risk of stroke or other adverse cardiovascular events.

The Role Of Genes In Anxiety Disorder

Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?

Just like a major heart attack, a burn is a horrible thing, says McCann. About 33% of patients who have really severe burns develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Which makes us wonder about the 66% who do not get PTSD. We think genes are a huge part of it. Were currently researching whether this same genetic vulnerability holds true for cardiac disease.

Johns Hopkins Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center

The Johns Hopkins Womens Cardiovascular Health Center provides education, comprehensive treatment and diagnostic services to prevent and manage heart disease in women.

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Dysfunctional Coping Skills Can Lead To High Blood Pressure And Hypertension

Short periods of high blood pressure can be brought on sporadically, but people with anxiety disorders have the same likelihood to develop chronic high blood pressure as those without.

These spikes can also happen frequently enough to cause the blood vessel damage found in hypertension, which in turn places stress on the heart, kidneys, and brain.

In addition to periodic spikes, associated dysfunctional coping skills for anxiety are other contributors to increased high blood pressure in the long term. These include smoking, drinking alcohol, and overeating.

What The Study Said

In a study with the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the association between anxiety and hypertension was investigated.

The study noted: Epidemiological studies have repeatedly investigated the association between anxiety and hypertension.

This study aimed to summarise the current evidence from cross-sectional and prospective studies that evaluated this association.

The study concluded that the results from their cross-sectional studies indicate that there is an association between anxiety and an increased risk of hypertension.

The results support early detection and management of anxiety in hypertensive patients.

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High Blood Pressure Is More Common During Anxiety Attacks

Hypertension can affect any individual, and it has several risk factors however, it is quite common with those suffering from anxiety attacks, as stress and anxiety causes a rapid rise in blood pressure.

It’s important to monitor your hypertension. But it’s also important to trust your doctor, and recognize that:

  • Not all hypertension is caused by anxiety.
  • Anxiety does not always cause hypertension.

You’re likely aware of the former. Hypertension is a natural part of aging and diet. It’s something you should monitor and try to control, but it’s also something that cannot always be controlled easily.

What you may not be aware of is that anxiety itself – a condition that is associated with extreme stress – doesn’t always cause hypertension, even when you’re anxious. That’s because when a healthy person with normal blood pressure experiences anxiety for an extended period of time , the body actually adjusts your blood pressure levels to account for the anxiety. So while anxiety can cause hypertension initially, chronic anxiety is considered unlikely to cause hypertension after the body adjusts to it.

Living With Panic Attack Health Fears

High blood pressure: Reduce your stress levels to help reduce your ...

Panic attacks involve so many physical symptoms that health fears are incredibly common. It can even create health anxiety. That’s why it’s so important to get your panic attacks under control.

Your blood pressure does increase when you have anxiety. Two different issues lead to the development of high blood pressure during an attack:

  • Adrenaline, which causes your heart to speed blood around your body.
  • Hyperventilation, which causes your blood vessels to constrict.

Both of these lead to tremendous pressure, and in some cases the appearance of severe hypertension. Those that go through panic attacks, they tend to experience fear over whether or not these attacks indicate that they are putting strain on their heart that could be deadly.

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Hyperventilation And Low Blood Pressure

Hyperventilation occurs when a persons breathing pattern changes in a way that reduces his or her CO2 levels. The most common reason this occurs is when the rate of increases , which often happens during periods of intense anxiety. It may also occur when people recognize their breathing rate increases, and try to slow the breathing through taking in deeper breaths. The body has a way of regulating the levels of oxygen and CO2 that is needed, so when a person attempts to control their breathing rate, it not uncommon to take in too much air.

Without enough carbon dioxide, the body has to work harder to function properly. Blood needs to move more quickly, and blood vessels dilate as a result. This dilation causes a drop in blood pressure but still may show up in a blood pressure reading.

How Anxiety Raises Blood Pressure

In addition to impacting you emotionally, anxiety will likely affect you physically. It can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase in response to a stressor.

When you experience a stressor for example, someone cutting you off in traffic cortisol, the stress hormone, gets released into your bloodstream. Stress can also cause your heart rate to increase, leading to a higher volume of blood circulating in your arteries. Both of these factors can result in heightened blood pressure.

If you experience many of the following symptoms and signs, it could mean youre experiencing anxiety, which may result in heightened blood pressure:

  • excessive sweating

research suggests a link between hypertension and anxiety, its harder to tell whether your blood pressure levels could actually be adding to your anxiety.

Whats clearer is that its not uncommon for conditions linked to hypertension like heart problems and stroke to cause anxiety. In fact, about people experience anxiety after a stroke. Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 5 people who experienced cardiac arrest had feelings of worry that kept coming back after the fact.

You might worry about:

  • having to go back to the hospital
  • missing work or important events due to your health
  • experiencing the financial impacts of having a health condition

Its possible to manage anxiety about hypertension alongside hypertension itself.

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Positive Coping Skills For Anxiety Improves Heart Health And Reduces Stress

So now that you know what happens in your body when anxiety causes blood pressure to spike short-term, how can we manage the situations that cause the cycling rise and fall and the unhealthy coping methods?

Men, women, and teens may have different sources of anxiety depending on their stage of life. But everyone can benefit from similar methods, perhaps with a tweak that suits them better.

Restoring balance to your sympathetic nervous system that is in charge of releasing the cortisol effect is an important part of your overall well being. Being proactive is key to maintaining stress levels before bad habits are substituted or longer-term effects such as high blood pressure become a factor.

Here are some strategies to get in the habit of practicing. When a situation that does cause stress presents itself, it is good to remember these to slow down your learned responses.

What Is High Blood Pressure

CAN STRESS CAUSE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
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There is too much sodium in our food supply, we are not getting enough physical activity, we are gaining too much weight, and we are drinking too much alcohol, and every single one of those things contributes to increasing blood pressure levels, Lloyd-Jones says.

To stay on top of your blood pressure, take your measurements often and understand where you are on the spectrum, Lloyd-Jones says. You can do this at home with a cuff-style biceps monitor. If you notice your blood pressure is starting to increase or if its already elevated , its important to be careful around the foods and habits that can make it worse, Lloyd-Jones adds. Its also important to work with a doctor to find the best way to control it, be it with medications, lifestyle changes or both.

Home blood pressure monitoring is a really important and empowering way for patients to take control of this, Lloyd-Jones says.

Rachel Nania writes about health care and health policy for AARP. Previously, she was a reporter and editor for WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C. A recipient of a Gracie Award and a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, she also participated in a dementia fellowship with the National Press Foundation.

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Anxiety And The Development Of Heart Disease

Its my view and my personal clinical experience that anxiety disorders can play a major role in heart disease, says McCann. I believe that a really careful look at anxiety would reveal the ways it can severely impact heart disease, both as a contributing factor and as an obstacle in recovery.

A natural reaction to a sudden heart attack can be similar to post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Youre likely to be shocked by your near-death experience and extremely hesitant to do the things you used to do.
  • You might constantly relive the life-threatening event, and avoid the activity or place associated with the heart attack.
  • Recurring anxious thoughts may impede your ability to get regular sleep.
  • Your thoughts about what lies ahead may be extremely negative and cause a drastically foreshortened outlook of the future.

What Is The Link Between Anxiety And High Blood Pressure

Anxiety and high blood pressure can sometimes go hand in hand. Anxiety may lead to high blood pressure, and high blood pressure may trigger feelings of anxiety.

Doctors characterize anxiety as feelings of intense worry or fear. It causes many physical symptoms, including increased heart rate and shallow breathing. Periods of anxiety may also temporarily increase blood pressure.

Meanwhile, having long-term high blood pressure which doctors refer to as hypertension can cause people to feel anxious about their health and future.

Keep reading to learn more about the link between anxiety and high blood pressure, as well as how to treat both conditions.

Anxiety causes the release of stress hormones in the body. These hormones trigger an increase in the heart rate and a narrowing of the blood vessels. Both of these changes cause blood pressure to rise, sometimes dramatically.

Doctors believe that anxiety is the reason behind white coat hypertension a phenomenon in which some individuals consistently have higher blood pressure readings at the doctors office than at home.

Anxiety-induced increases in blood pressure are temporary and will subside once the anxiety lessens. Regularly having high levels of anxiety, however, can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels, in the same way that long-term hypertension can.

  • alcohol use

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How Can You Lower Stress

No matter if you deal with stress well or poorly, you still have to deal with it. According to Dr. Laffin, there are several options to lower your stress levels and your blood pressure.

  • Exercise: Regular exercise has been shown time and time again as a great way to make people feel better, decrease stress levels and help them adapt to stressful situations, Dr. Laffin says. The positive effects on your heart health are also important for your blood pressure.
  • Sleep: You have to focus on both sleep quantity and sleep quality, he says. We need six-to-eight hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.
  • Removing stressors: Removing the things from your life that are causing your stress is crucial to helping reduce it. Of course, thats not always easy when your stress is caused by work or a family member. If your job is the major stressor, it might be time to start looking for a new job, he says. That wont work for everyone, of course, so additional steps might be needed to help deal with the stress levels.
  • Better diet: Foods high in salt and fat can increase your blood pressure even before stress comes into the mix. Cutting those foods, as well as alcohol, can help keep blood pressure down.

Other options that Dr. Laffin says are worth checking out include exploring meditation or therapy as potential options.

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