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Does Stress Affect Blood Pressure

Lowering Systolic Blood Pressure More May Cut Health Risks

Blood Pressure Facts : How Does Stress Affect Blood Pressure?

One major study found that lowering systolic blood pressure to well below the commonly recommended level also greatly lowered the number of cardiovascular events and deaths among people at least 50 years old with high blood pressure.

When study participants achieved a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mmHg compared to the higher target of 140 mmHg recommended for most people, and 150 for people over 60 issues such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure were reduced by almost one-third, and the risk of death by almost one-fourth.

“That’s important information, because more lives may be saved and more deaths may be prevented if we maintain lower blood pressure in certain patients,” says Lynne Braun, NP, PhD, a nurse practitioner at the Rush Heart Center for Women.

Braun cautions, however, that your personal blood pressure target depends on a variety of things, including your current blood pressure, lifestyle, risk factors, other medications you are taking and your age. “Every person has to be evaluated as an individual,” she says. “Realistically, we can’t get everybody down to 120, and trying to do so may create unintended problems.”

It can be dangerous, for instance, to keep an older person on medications that have unsafe side effects, such as diuretics , which can cause dehydration and dizziness in older adults.

And there can be other issues involved with taking multiple medications, such as cost and compliance.

How Stress Affects Your Health

In addition to the emotional discomfort we feel when faced with a stressful situation, our bodies react by releasing stress hormones into the blood. These hormones prepare the body for the fight or flight response by making the heart beat faster and constricting blood vessels to get more blood to the core of the body instead of the extremities.

Constriction of blood vessels and increase in heart rate does raise blood pressure, but only temporarily when the stress reaction goes away, blood pressure returns to its pre-stress level. This is called situational stress, and its effects are generally short-lived and disappear when the stressful event is over.

Fight or flight is a valuable response when we are faced with an imminent threat that we can handle by confronting or fleeing. However, our modern world contains many stressful events that we cant handle with those options. Chronic stress causes our bodies to go into high gear on and off for days or weeks at a time. The links between chronic stress and blood pressure are not clear and are still being studied.

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Conway Medical Center Is Compassionate Care That You Can Trust

For decades, weve focused on improving the health of our community and transforming lives. Our wide range of services covers every aspect of your wellness, from cardiac care to nutrition.

Dont wait for your blood pressure to increase and create a life-threatening situation. Take a proactive role in your health and schedule an appointment with a primary care provider today.

Learning To Cope With Stress Can Help

Does High Blood Pressure Cause Anxiety?

Stress and hypertension have often been linked, but researchers are still looking into a direct relationship between the two. Still, the best advice to hypertensive patients: Try to relax.

When you are stressed, your body sends stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones create a temporary spike in blood pressure, causing your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. When the stressful situation is over, blood pressure goes back to its normal level.

Chronic stress, however, may cause your body to stay in this highly-charged state longer than natural.

While stress itself may or may not affect blood pressure, how you cope with stress does. For instance, overeating, smoking and drinking alcohol in response to stressful situations are direct causes of sustained high blood pressure. On the flip side, healthier coping mechanisms like exercising, practicing yoga and meditating can all help lower blood pressure.

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Give Yourself The Gift Of A Healthy Lifestyle

Engage in physical activity regularly. Do what you enjoy walk, swim, ride a bike or jog to get your muscles going. Letting go of the tension in your body will help you feel better.

Limit alcohol, dont overeat and dont smoke.

Relaxing for short periods during your workday, at night and on weekends may help lower your blood pressure. Another great stress-buster is to get regular physical activity.

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Many people believe that stress and high blood pressure are directly linked. However, this is a popular myth since blood pressure is not nervous tension. Actually, it is more correct to say that stress can only cause temporary rises in blood pressure. Stress does not cause hypertension. Once the stressful situation has passed, blood pressure will return to whatever is normal for that individual. And, conversely, if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure , this does not mean you are stressed or overly anxious. You could be perfectly calm and still have hypertension. On the other hand, it is true that chronic stress can have an impact on hypertension. However, we really do not know why or how much stress actually contributes to hypertension.

Just because stress is not directly related to hypertension does not mean you can dismiss the importance of reducing stress if you are suffering from diagnosed hypertension. Particularly if your blood pressure is difficult to control, you should pay attention to the chronic stressors in your life and try to reduce them.

  • Walk or bicycle rather than take the car to work
  • Take the stairs rather than the escalator or elevator If you travel by bus get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way
  • Cycle short journeys rather than take the car
  • Walk a bit further every day with the dog
  • Get out of the office at lunchtime and have a walk

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Can High Blood Pressure Cause Anxiety

Having high blood pressure can trigger feelings of anxiety in some people. Those whom doctors diagnose with hypertension may worry about their health and their future.

Sometimes, the symptoms of hypertension, which include headaches, blurred vision, and shortness of breath, can be enough to cause panic or anxiety.

What Can You Do

HBP 005- How stress causes High Blood Pressure

Now that you know the answer to your question, “Can stress cause high blood pressure?” you may want to know how to deal with the whole situation. First thing you need to understand is that even though stress can raise your blood pressure for a short time, the spike can be quite dramatic. It is, therefore, important to make certain lifestyle changes to protect yourself from high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

1. Be Aware of the Warning Signs of Stress

In fact, most people don’t really know they are in stress, which can be bad to their health. Below are several mental, physical, behavioral and emotional signs that will help confirm if you’re under stress.

Physical signs

General aches, dizziness, grinding teeth, indigestion, clenched jaws, muscle tension, racing heart, difficulty sleeping, sweaty palms, stooped posture, trembling, tiredness, unexplained weight loss or weight gain, upset stomach, etc.

Mental Signs

Clouded judgment, constant worry, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, loss of sense of humor, lack of creativity, etc.

Emotional Signs

Crying, anger, feeling powerless, depression, loneliness, irritability, mood swings, nervousness, negative thinking, sadness, etc.

Behavioral Signs

Compulsive eating, bossiness, explosive actions, critical of others, increased use of drugs/alcohol, impulsive actions, withdrawal from social situations, etc.

2. Try Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

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The Link Between Stress And Hypertension

When taken alone, stress cant cause you to have high blood pressure. Age, race, weight, and certain habits all are factors that contribute to hypertension.

Stressful situations may play a part in some of these contributing factors. For instance, you may smoke to relieve stress or eat unhealthy foods when youre feeling strained.

Can Anxiety Treatment Cause High Blood Pressure

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 Stress Can Affect Lifestyle Choices And Further Affect Hypertension

How do you feel when you feel stressed out? Are you tired? Do you get achy muscles? Do you get discouraged? For many people, these and other effects of too much stress can get in the way of living a healthy lifestyle. Some consequences can include:

  • Stress-eating, or eating too much because of feelings or fatigue and not because of true hunger.
  • Skipping workouts because of feelings of fatigue, muscle aches, or feeling too busy to take time to work out.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption to dull feelings or generate a feeling of relaxation.
  • Increased smoking or tobacco use to manage anxiety.
  • Getting less sleep due to anxiety.

These can all harm health and get in the way of managing hypertension. Stress-eating, skipping exercise, and drinking more alcohol, for example, can all lead to weight gain, which can increase blood pressure. Sleep deprivation can increase stress hormones, which raise blood pressure, and also cause weight gain due to increased hunger. Skipping workouts can increase feelings of depression and reduce energy. The list goes on, but Lark can help you keep up or establish healthy habits that work both to fight stress and manage hypertension.

How Does Stress Affect Your Overall Health

Does Anxiety Affect Blood Pressure

Feeling stressed for a long time can affect your mood and how well you sleep, and sometimes people take on unhealthy ways of coping, such as smoking, drinking alcohol or eating too much. These can lead to health problems in the future including raised blood pressure, clogged up arteries, heart disease and stroke.

Look out for the early signs of stress, like sweating, loss of appetite, headaches, poor concentration and feeling irritable or worried, so you can see if you need to make changes and find ways to manage it.

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How Does Stress Put Me At Risk For High Blood Pressure

In stressful situations, your body produces hormones like adrenaline, which triggers your fight or flight response. This natural, fear-based response can make your heart temporarily beat faster and work harder. When your heart beats faster and harder, your blood vessels become narrower, which can lead to high blood pressure.

During stressful times, your blood pressure may rise for a short time. Typically, your blood pressure will return to normal once the stressful situation ends.

Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes

Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:

  • Caffeine
  • Certain medications or combinations of medications
  • Chronic kidney disease

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Weight Gain Can Occur

Another role of cortisol is to make sure that the energy that you might spend gets replaced. Cortisol can make you feel hungry even when your body does not truly need the extra food or calories. The result can be weight gain, which causes higher blood pressure. Lark for Hypertension can help you log your food and track your nutrition, without stressing over it, to help keep calories in check for a healthy weight.

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Reducing Your Salt Intake

Blood Pressure Facts : Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than a teaspoon of salt a day for adults. That may sound alarmingly small, but there are many painless ways to reduce your sodium intake.

Reduce canned and processed foods. Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods like soups, convenience meals, and fast food.

Cook more meals at home. Preparing your own meals gives you more control over your sodium intake. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible and cook without salt.

Use spices as alternatives to salt. Try fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or chives, or dried spices such as allspice, bay leaves, or cumin to flavor your meal without sodium.

Substitute reduced sodium versions. Choose your condiments and packaged foods carefully, looking for foods labeled sodium free, low sodium, or unsalted.

See Heart-Healthy Diet Tips to learn more.

The effects on your blood pressure

  • Adopting the DASH diet, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and reducing your consumption of unhealthy fats can lower your blood pressure by about 11 mm Hg.
  • Cutting back on sodium by about 1,000 mg per day can reduce your blood pressure by 5 to 6 mm Hg.
  • Increasing your potassium intake from food to 3,500-5,000 mg can knock 4 to 5 mm Hg off your reading.
  • Limiting your alcohol intake to two drinks per day if youre male, or one drink per day if youre female can lower your reading by about 4 mm Hg.

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Getting A Handle On The Stress Response

Luckily, you can manage that stress response. Common prescriptions include exercise, laughter, and a good nights sleep. We can also interrupt the acute response to stress by reconditioning our reactions to its triggers.

Simply taking a deep breath is one way to start. A focus on breathing lies at the core of various relaxation techniques. Yogis have incorporated slow breathing as part of meditation practices for centuries, and in the 1970s, the medical world formalized this connection when Dr. Herbert Benson first described the relaxation response.

Many of us recognize the value of taking a deep breath in everyday situations. Doctors often ask patients to breathe deeply before getting their blood pressure taken, for example, and mindful people may take a deep breath before responding to an insult. But it is also helpful to incorporate deep breathing in a daily routine, especially for type A or stress-prone personalities, with an added benefit on blood pressure.

Stress And Hypertension: Symptoms And Treatment

Stress, Pressure, Tension, and Anxiety are often synonymous. Therefore, it is not surprising that hypertension is viewed by many as also being indicative of a state of increased emotional tension, anxiety, or stress. If such a connection does exist, which comes first? Could they have a common cause? Almost 100 years ago, one of the earliest studies of hypertensive men emphasized that one finds an unusual frequency of those, who as directors of big enterprises, had a great deal of responsibility, and who, after long periods of psychic overwork, became nervous.1 A debate over whether a particular hypertensive personality exists has gone on ever since. Some believe that patients with hypertension are characterized by a generalized state of increased anxiety, while others claim that feelings of suppressed anger are more common. A tendency towards submissiveness and introversion has also been suggested, and increased denial and resistance to pain have been reported in those with a family history of high blood pressure. How can such varied views be reconciled?

  • Gaisbock F. Quoted in Julius, S. Hemodynamic, pharmacologic and epidemiologic evidence for behavioral factors in human hypertension. p. 59 in Julius, S., and Bassett, D.R. eds. Handbook of Hypertension: Behavioral Factors in Hypertension Elsevier Science Publishers, Amsterdam, 1987
  • Lynch, J. J. The Language of the Heart: The Bodys Response to Human Dialogue.. Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1985.
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    Effects Of Exercise On Blood Pressure

    Aerobic activities such as swimming, cycling, and running put additional demands on your cardiovascular system. Your muscles need more oxygen than they do when youre at rest, so you have to breathe more quickly.

    Your heart starts to pump harder and faster to circulate blood to deliver oxygen to your muscles. As a result, systolic blood pressure rises.

    Its normal for systolic blood pressure to rise to between 160 and 220 mm Hg during exercise. Unless youve cleared it with your doctor, stop exercising if your systolic blood pressure surpasses 200 mm Hg. Beyond 220 mm Hg, your risk of a heart problem increases.

    Different factors can influence how your cardiovascular system responds to exercise. Some of these factors include diet, medical conditions, and medications.

    For instance, exercise hypertension is a condition that causes an extreme spike in blood pressure during physical activity. People with exercise hypertension can experience spikes in systolic blood pressure up to 250 mm Hg during exercise.

    In general, your blood pressure should return to normal within several hours of a workout. Even then, you might notice that your blood pressure doesnt return to exactly what it was before exercise. Thats because its normal for blood pressure to drop slightly within a few hours of exercise.

    What Four Things Happen Right Before A Heart Attack

    Does Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

    Here are 4 signs of heart attack to be on the lookout for:

    • #1: Chest Pain, Pressure, Squeezing, and Fullness.
    • #2: Arm, Back, Neck, Jaw, or Stomach Pain or Discomfort.
    • #3: Shortness of Breath, Nausea, and Lightheadedness.
    • #4: Breaking Out in a Cold Sweat.
    • Heart Attack Symptoms: Women vs Men.
    • What Next?

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