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How Does Stress Affect Blood Pressure

Can Pain Cause High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Facts : How Does Stress Affect Blood Pressure?

Pain, immediate or chronic can produce a traumatic effect on your body. It changes how things inside the body operate. If you have some form of pain, you may be wondering, can pain cause high blood pressure?

Pain can cause high blood pressure because it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. This increases the heart rate and constricts blood vessels which increases blood pressure.

This blog post will explain how the BP increases in more detail. In addition, Ill explain how much blood pressure will increase and if chronic pain can effect it too.

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How Does Stress Affect The Body

Everyone feels stress at different times in their life. But its when those pressures go unaddressed and build up over time that were left with chronic stress, explains Dr. Michael Kayal, a cardiologist at Geisinger Community Medical Center, which can show up in the body as physical symptoms.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Sleep problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Body aches

Chronic stress, if left untreated, can also lead to higher blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure is a common side effect of stress. And because high blood pressure doesnt typically cause symptoms, when it happens, we often have no idea, Dr. Kayal says.

Over a prolonged period, untreated high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing heart disease or put you at a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Managing Stress In Your Life

No one can lead a stress-free life. Youre going to encounter stressful situations. The question is, how do you protect your health? One of the first steps you can take is to identify what is causing you stress. Often the things that cause you stress are outside of your control, but sometimes, you can make a decision that will help limit the stress in your life. For example, you may be able to take on fewer commitments, simplify your schedule, or leave time for more pleasurable or relaxing activities. If you cant control the things that are causing your stress, you may be able to learn coping skills that can limit the impact of stress on your life and health. Some useful coping strategies include:

  • Making sure your diet is nutritious and well-balanced
  • Exercising regularly
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Participating in hobbies or pleasurable activities
  • Volunteering

If you have high blood pressure and a high level of stress, book an appointment online or over the phone to discuss your situation with the staff at Walker Family Care. We may be able to help you identify ways of reducing stress, and we can monitor your blood pressure.

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The Cold Pressor Test

The cold pressor test 11, like the one above, is very effective when evaluating how pain and stress affect the human body. What is the cold pressor test?

The cold pressor test is used clinically to evaluate cardiovascular functions during pain and stress. A participants hand is immersed into cold water for a period of time. Changes in blood pressure and heart rate are recorded prior to, during and after the immersion.

In another cold pressor study, students performed the test and used water measured and maintained at 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit . While the participants hands were immersed in the cold water, blood pressure increased from approximately 120/77 to 138/86 mmHg 12.

Studies have shown people who have a lower tolerance to pain show a greater increase in blood pressure than people with a higher tolerance. Even though, blood pressure increased in both groups 13.

What High Blood Pressure Is

High blood pressure symptoms: Hypertension signs include ...

Also called hypertension, high blood pressure develops when your blood pumps more forcefully than necessary through your arteries, to a point that it can cause them damage.

You wont notice the effects of high blood pressure as its developing, but left neglected, it can increase your chance of heart attack or stroke down the road.

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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.

What Four Things Happen Right Before A Heart Attack

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?
  • Next Steps.

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Stress Contributes To Poor Sleep

A good nights sleep has a big impact on your overall health, and people who suffer from chronic stress are more likely to sleep less and experience insomnia. Research shows that an episode of insomnia causes a spike in blood pressure that carries on through the next day. Also, sleep pattern disturbances increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart failure.

What Is High Blood Pressure

HBP 005- How stress causes High Blood Pressure

Your heart pumps blood through your valves, delivering throughout your body via your arteries. The amount of pressure that your blood exerts against the wall of your arteries coming from your heart determines your blood pressure.

If your heart is pumping more blood that your arteries can safely carry, it raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the stress on your heart and arteries, which can be dangerous by itself and also increase the risk of other heart conditions. Its also possible to have high blood pressure for years and not know it. Uncontrolled, it can cause heart attacks and stroke.

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Stress Leads To Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Sometimes chronic stress increases your blood pressure indirectly. For example, some people cope with stress by eating processed and sugary foods, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes. Doing so introduces other risk factors known to cause hypertension.

A study that looked at the lifestyle impact of stress on blood pressure found that participants who used food, alcohol, and smoking as a way to relieve stress had higher blood pressure. On the other hand, participants who chose healthier coping mechanisms, such as exercise and relaxation techniques, had lower blood pressure.

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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Give Yourself A Break

Now is not the time to be hard on yourself. Maybe youre frustrated because a household renovation project wasnt started or that youve already violated your New Years resolutions. When youre feeling overwhelmed, thats the perfect indicator that youre ready for a break.

Take deep breaths or do something you enjoy for a few minutes before jumping back into your workload or projects.

Causes Of High Blood Pressure

Does Anxiety Affect 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.

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Blood Pressure Changes Can Cause Anxiety

It’s also possible for blood pressure to cause anxiety. Both low blood pressure and high blood pressure can cause changes in your heartbeat, dizziness and lightheadedness, and more. These symptoms can themselves create anxiety or trigger panic attacks, and that in turn may increase your anxiety. However, not everyone who suffers from high blood pressure experiences anxiety.

Is it Dangerous When Anxiety Affects Blood Pressure?

The greatest concern is whether or not your blood pressure changes are dangerous. The answer is a bit complicated. On the most basic level, affected blood pressure is not dangerous. Remember, random fluctuations happen all the time with no ill effects. Blood pressure is a symptom of an issue whether it’s anxiety or heart disease and not a cause of heart problems.

Your heart rate and your blood pressure also may get a break with anxiety. The body is remarkable and adjusts to chronic conditions. Some people that experience anxiety for hours on end actually find that their blood pressure adjusts to that anxiety, which ultimately means that it goes back to a base level. High blood pressure changes tend to be fairly short term, and are most common in the early stages of anxiety or during panic attacks.

Your Reaction To Stress May Affect Your Blood Pressure

Your body produces a surge of hormones when you’re in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow.

There’s no proof that stress by itself causes long-term high blood pressure. But reacting to stress in unhealthy ways can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Certain behaviors are linked to higher blood pressure, such as:

  • Smoking

Also, heart disease may be linked to certain health conditions related to stress, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Isolation from friends and family

But there’s no evidence these conditions are directly linked to high blood pressure. Instead, the hormones your body makes when you’re emotionally stressed may damage your arteries, leading to heart disease. Also, some symptoms, like those caused by depression, may cause you to forget to take medications to control high blood pressure or other heart conditions.

Increases in blood pressure related to stress can be dramatic. But when your stress goes away, your blood pressure returns to normal. However, even frequent, temporary spikes in blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, heart and kidneys in a way similar to long-term high blood pressure.

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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.

Blood Pressure Changes And Anxiety

Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

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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Stressful Situations Can Make Your Blood Pressure Rise Temporarily

Theres no evidence that stress causes long-term high blood pressure, but feeling stressed over a long time can take its toll on your health, affecting your mood and your body too. If its not under control, stress can lead to serious illness including heart disease, so its important to find ways to manage it.

Gaps In Preventive Care

When annual physicals, or optional surgeries are postponed to avoid exposure to the virus, its more likely that blood pressure that was once in check could start to spiral out of control. Dr. Ngo notes: Visit tracking showed a large drop in office visits during the peak of the pandemic and a corresponding bump in the percentage of patients with uncontrolled blood pressure. Along with the increase in stressful situations and uncertainties, blood pressure is spiking higher than usual during this period. Even self monitoring can be difficult for those who do not have home blood pressure monitors, as most pharmacies and retail stores have restricted access to these services during the pandemic.

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How Does Stress Affect Your Overall Health

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.

How To Reduce Anxiety

Does stress cause high blood pressure?

First, lets be clear: If youre experiencing anxiety, we want to know about it. We care about much more than your physical health. We know that mental health is an important part of your overall well-being.

We care about our patients, and we are always in your corner, ready to help you.

Following are some useful tips for reducing anxiety:

  • Any type of physical activity, even if its just a quick walk around the block during your lunch break.
  • Reducing or eliminating your alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Getting enough sleep

If your anxiety continues for more than two weeks or if youre finding it difficult to complete everyday activities, you should consider talking to a counselor or psychologist who can provide help and direction. We can provide a referral if needed.

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Other Ways Stress Causes High Blood Sugar

There are other ways that stress can lead to spikes in blood sugar. During periods of stress, people may participate in behaviors that could lead to high blood sugar such as emotional overeating of refined carbohydrates or foods that are high in added sugars. People may also fail to exercise or take their medications when theyre supposed to. Since stress has the ability to change healthy habits, these factors can all lead to elevated blood sugar levels.

Stress can also affect sleep because stress and sleep are both controlled by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. When a person is under high stress and the axis is encouraging the extra production of cortisol, changes in the axis occur. This leads to problems with getting quality sleep as well as changes in sleeping patterns. When a person isnt getting enough sleep, it can cause glucose intolerance, which describes metabolic conditions that cause high blood sugar levels.

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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