What Is High Blood Pressure
Before we go any further, lets take a look at the physical problem I want to discuss first. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a medical condition in which the pressure of the blood traveling through our arteries constantly rises. The blood in our blood vessels is circulating at a particular speed in order to get to all parts of the body. However, if the brain or the heart get distorted data of what this speed has to be, were suffering either from high blood pressure or low blood pressure respectively.
High blood pressure may cause the bigger risks of stroke, kidney disease, artery disease, heart disease and more.
Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Theres no single cause of high blood pressure, but rather many contributing factors. Some are out of your control, such as age, race, gender, and family historyblood pressure tends to increase over the age of 70, affects more women than men over the age of 55, and is more common in African Americans than Caucasians, perhaps due to a genetic sensitivity to salt.
Many other risk factors for hypertension are within your control. Being overweight, eating a poor diet high in salt, smoking, drinking excessively, and not getting enough physical exercise can all impact your blood pressure.
There are also specific substances that can raise your blood pressure, such as:
- Caffeine, including coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks.
- Prescription medications, including some of those used to treat ADHD, birth control pills, corticosteroids, atypical antipsychotics, MAOIs and SNRIs used to treat depression, and some cancer drugs.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as aspirin and ibuprofen .
- Cough and cold medications containing decongestant or NSAIDs.
- Herbal supplements, such as ephedra and yohimbine.
- Recreational drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
- Licorice found in some candies and gum.
Diagnosing And Treating Anxiety
Its important to differentiate normal anxiety from the more severe type. Does the anxiety interfere with your family life or keep you from being productive in your professional life? Does it restrict you from engaging in the activities you like? If the answer is yes, then its the kind of anxiety that may require some degree of therapy or medical attention.
Depending on the duration, severity, and type of anxiety, treatment can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A common and effective method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves three main components:
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Blood Pressure Medications For Anxiety
“When blood pressure medications are needed in a patient who also has chronic or periodic anxiety, if there is no other contraindication, a beta blocker and some, but not all, calcium channel blockers could be an excellent choice,” says Catherine Collings, MD, a cardiologist and director of lifestyle medicine at El Camino Health in northern California.
Beta blockers block the hormone epinephrine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Epinephrine â also known as adrenaline â is related to the fight-or-flight response, which can lead to anxiety if that fight-or-flight response stays activated long-term, Mayo Clinic says. Reducing the effects of adrenaline may help reduce anxiety or its intensity.
Beta blockers can be used to help lessen physical anxiety symptoms, like rapid heartbeat or trembling, says the National Institute of Mental Health. Still, the evidence for beta blockers as an anxiety treatment isn’t firm. A February 2016 review in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found insufficient evidence to support the routine use of propranolol to treat anxiety disorders.
Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering the cells of the heart and blood vessels, according to the National Cancer Institute. By blocking calcium, these medications allow blood vessels to relax and open, helping lower blood pressure. Verapamil has been used to treat anxiety and other mood disorders. However, very few clinical studies have been done, and those that were showed mixed results.
The Effect Of Anxiety On The Heart
When someone is anxious, their body reacts in ways that can put an extra strain on their heart. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be especially damaging among individuals with existing cardiac disease.
Anxiety may have an association with the following heart disorders and cardiac risk factors:
- Rapid heart rate In serious cases, can interfere with normal heart function and increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Increased blood pressure If chronic, can lead to coronary disease, weakening of the heart muscle, and heart failure.
- May result in higher incidence of death after an acute heart attack.
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Looking For A List Of Symptoms
If you are looking for a list of symptoms and signs of high blood pressure , you wont find them here. This is because most of the time, there are none.
Myth: People with high blood pressure will experience symptoms, like nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing.
Truth: High blood pressure is a largely symptomless silent killer. If you ignore your blood pressure because you think a certain symptom or sign will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life.
Blood Pressure Changes And Anxiety
Anxiety is the activation of your fight or flight system a system designed to keep you safe from harm when no danger is present. The fight or flight system causes a number of physical changes that would help you respond to a predator or threat if one was present, but can be distressing when they occur without that danger.
Different types of anxiety can affect your blood pressure in different ways. To understand how anxiety can impact blood pressure, first you must gain a basic understanding of blood pressure and how it fluctuates.
Finally, it is always important to remember that blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day due to exertion, diet, hydration, and more. Blood pressure is not constant even if you do not have any anxiety. So “high blood pressure” may not be high blood pressure at all, and may instead be a reading during one of these fluctuations.
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Can A Panic Attack Cause A Heart Attack
A panic attack is unlikely to cause a heart attack, but its possible. Emotional stress plays a role in both conditions. Both panic attacks and heart attacks can occur during or after a stressful situation, says Dr. Miller. But most of the time, people have a panic attack rather than a heart attack in response to emotional stress.
People who have anxiety, depression or chronic stress may have a higher risk of heart problems. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, which raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The Role Of Genes In Anxiety Disorder
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.
The Relationship Between Anxiety And Blood Pressure
It is definitely the case that anxiety has an association with blood pressure, though its unclear to what extent that relationship is meaningful.
For instance, we know that people with anxiety do tend to have higher morning blood pressure spikes compared to those who do not suffer from anxiety something that might have serious implications for your mental health, if your morning routine struggles.
The general consensus is that anxietys effects on blood pressure should be considered temporary, but over time many episodes of anxiety can still do damage.
For instance, one study found that there is an association between anxiety and hypertension over time.
The authors of that study recommended that early detection and management of chronic anxiety was key in preventing the onset of anxiety-based hypertension.
Hypertension over time can cause a variety of health and blood pressure related side effects, can lead to heart and kidney disease, and can cause irreparable damage.
Blood Pressure And Heart Rate
Specially trained nurses measured blood pressure in seated participants, after four minutes or two minutes , with the cuff placed on the right upper arm, and with the arm rested on a table at heart-level. Cuff size was adjusted after measuring the arm circumference. At baseline, blood pressure was measured using calibrated mercury manometers with standard cuff size. The first pulse sound was registered as systolic blood pressure and the level at which the pulse disappeared as diastolic blood pressure. The measurements were repeated after two minutes, and the second reading was used in this study. At years 11 and 22, blood pressure was measured with a Dinamap 845XT based on oscillometry. Blood pressure was measured automatically three times at one-minute intervals. The mean of the second and third reading was used in this study. At HUNT 1, resting heart rate at the wrist was counted for 15 seconds or for 30 seconds if the heart was irregular. At HUNT 2 and 3, heart rate was measured by the Dinamap. Heart rate was expressed as beats/min.
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When To Get Help
See a GP if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.
They’ll ask you to describe your symptoms, how often you get them, and how long you have had them.
They may also carry out a physical examination to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
It can sometimes be difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions and personal life, but try not to feel anxious or embarrassed.
You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you have regular and unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of continuous worry or concern about having further attacks.
Common Panic Attack Myths
1 Panic attacks will lead to fainting: Fainting is caused by a sudden and significant drop in blood pressure. When youre anxious, your blood pressure rises. So, its extremely unlikely that you will faint when you have a panic attack.
2. Panic attacks will cause me to lose control: Although it can feel like you are out of control, you are still behaving in ways that show you are in control when you have a panic attack .
3. Panic attacks will cause me to go crazy: Panic attacks do not cause people to go crazy. No one has ever gone crazy from experiencing a panic attack. Never. Ever!
4. Panic attacks are really a heart attack in disguise: You are not having a heart attack. The chest pain you experience during a panic attack is the result of muscle tension . You are not going to suffocate. The feeling of not getting enough air is due to shallow breathing. You are still getting enough air to live.
What to Know About Panic Attacks
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Effect Of Combined Anxiety And Depression On Mean Blood Pressure
We found symptoms of anxiety and depression to predict a relative decrease in blood pressure during 22-year follow-up. Baseline level of anxiety and depression was positively associated with a decrease in systolic blood pressure in linear regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, educational level and baseline blood pressure. For diastolic blood pressure, we found a similar non-significant trend. A high symptom level at both baseline and at year 11 was more strongly associated with a decrease in blood pressure during 22-year follow up. In individuals with a high symptom level at all three examinations, we found an even stronger decrease for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared with individuals with a lower symptom level. Additional adjustment for other health factors and for antihypertensive medication did not change the overall pattern of results, but the effect of combined anxiety and depression on blood pressure was slightly attenuated .
Table 2 Association of combined anxiety/depression scores1 with change in blood pressure from baseline to 22-year follow-up
Excluding individuals using antidepressant medication at year 11 did not change the results essentially: a high symptom level at all three examinations was associated with a slightly lower decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, after excluding those using antihypertensive medication at baseline or at year 22 , we found a stronger effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
What Is White Coat Syndrome
One interesting phenomenon related to anxiety and hypertension is white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension. This occurs in 15% to 30% of patients who have a rise in their blood pressure due to nerves or anxiety when they are in a clinical setting, such as a doctors or dentists office . Its a concern for patients because they may be prescribed unnecessary medication that can have detrimental side effects. What makes it even trickier is that white coat syndrome can sometimes be an early warning sign for actual hypertension.
Luckily, its unlikely that a doctor will prescribe medication or treatment based on one high blood pressure reading. If you or your doctor believe you may be experiencing white coat syndrome, its likely youll be asked to monitor your blood pressure readings at home or wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for a few days to get a more accurate depiction of your blood pressure. Blood pressure goals are under 135/85.
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How To Determine Your Blood Pressure
Health care workers use stethoscope or electronic sensor and a blood pressure cuff to determine ones blood pressure. They measure two types of pressure: systolic pressure which is the blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood, and diastolic pressure which is the blood pressure when the heart is at rest. It is advised to regularly have your blood pressure checked.
I also cannot emphasize enough having a reliable blood pressure monitor at home. When you measure your blood pressure in the comfort of your home, you get more reliable results as people often suffer from white coat syndrome, meaning that you get high readings because you get nervous when doctor or nurse is measuring your blood pressure. Just because you are afraid that you have high blood pressure, you indeed might get high readings even in the normal situation your blood pressure is in the normal range. Thats why owning a high-quality blood pressure monitor is worth gold. After talking with several doctors, we have been recommended Omron M6 which is often used by doctors as well. We bought our M6 several years ago and it still does a very reliable job, saving us lots of doctor visits and pure money, not forgetting rescuing us from anxiousness and white coat syndrome.
Bp And Heart Rate Measurements
Blood pressure and heart rate were measured in the supine position, by a nurse who was unaware of the study, with a device that was checked every day for accuracy against a mercury sphygmomanometer.
Measurements were taken twice on the left arm, 2 min apart, and the average of the two measurements was recorded.
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How To Reduce Anxiety And Hypertension
Hypertension can be very serious, so start by talking to your doctor. Take their recommendations seriously and do everything that they tell you. Your doctor is the only one that can diagnose hypertension, as well as the cause of your hypertension, and give you more information on what you can do to control it.
After that, you need to engage in those activities and try to realize that your hypertension isn’t going to cause any symptoms. As long as you follow the doctor’s advice and keep your heart healthy, your look term outlook is still very good. If your doctor tells you that you do not have hypertension, you need to also realize that hypertension doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process that occurs gradually and can be monitored with yearly doctor visits.
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Effect Of Pure Anxiety And Pure Depression On Mean Blood Pressure
In analyses using symptoms of anxiety and depression as continuous scores separately at year 11, we found that both anxiety and depression predicted lower blood pressure at year 22. In analyses where anxiety and depression were further adjusted for each other, the remaining effects of anxiety and of depression on blood pressure were attenuated or became non-significant . Further adjustment for other health factors, antihypertensive medication and heart rate slightly attenuated the associations, similarly as shown in Table . Supplementary analyses using anxiety/depression cut-offs confirmed the direction and increased the strength of the associations described above. However, several of the findings became non-significant .
Table 3 Association of anxiety and depression1 at 11-year follow-up with change in blood pressure from 11-year to 22-year follow-up
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Making Changes If You Have Anxiety Or Depression
If your high blood pressure is co-occurring with a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety, it can be even tougher to find the energy and motivation to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Just thinking about exercising or preparing a healthy meal, for example, can seem overwhelming. But by focusing all your efforts on one tiny change at a time, youll find that youre capable of more than you realized.
Take the first step. It could be as simple as going for a walk or downloading a meditation app or buying some nicotine patches. It can take time for lifestyle changes to register as a reduction in blood pressurebut sometimes they can improve your mood much sooner. Taking that first step is always the hardest.
Focus on small steps. Its easy to get overwhelmed by daily life when youre battling depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder. By taking small but positive steps each day, though, youll find that your energy and outlook will gradually start to improve. Once you feel happier and more positive, youll find it easier to forge ahead with lifestyle changes and see the results in both your blood pressure readings and your overall outlook and wellbeing.