The ONE organ responsible for high blood pressure.
Does Stress Really Affect Your Blood Pressure?
But chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. One study found that people with high stress were over 60% more likely to have hypertension than people who reported little stress.
Anxiety doesn't cause long-term high blood pressure (hypertension). But episodes of anxiety can cause dramatic, temporary spikes in blood pressure.
The long-term effect of stress on your bodyWe know that stress causes your blood pressure to spike when you’re in the heat of frustration. Not only do your heart rate and blood pressure increase due to stress, but you might also feel exhausted after a particularly stressful day. Chronic stress does impact your body and overall health. While there is a link between stress and sustained hypertension, the connection isn’t what most people expect it to be. Experts aren’t certain that the stress itself causes long-term hypertension, but they do understand that stress impacts your lifestyle and leads to behaviors and circumstances that contribute for certain. When you’re stressed, you might struggle to get a good night’s sleep. You might stay awake for hours as your mind races and wake up feeling unrested. Additionally, many people who are stressed can’t find the time to exercise every day or even every week. Stress can also impact your eating habits, which in turn raises your blood pressure because of factors like atherosclerosis which narrows your veins and arteries. Treating yourself to a particularly large or delectable meal every once in a while as a coping mechanism isn’t so bad, but when it happens all the time, those choices impact your cardiovascular health. Stress also makes many people more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of coping. Even smoking cigarettes is a known risk factor for hypertension despite their legality.
Where stress directly impacts your healthDuring periods of stress and anxiety, your body releases a myriad of hormones that can cause damage to the insides of your blood vessels. This raises your risk of getting heart disease at some point in life. Additionally, if you already take medication for high blood pressure, stress might decrease your adherence to taking them. If you have many responsibilities on your plate at the same time and a lot on your mind, you’re less likely to remember to take a daily medication.
How to tell if you need to dial back the stressOur experts at Westmed Family Healthcare measure your blood pressure at every visit and let you know if you have or are at risk of getting hypertension. While hypertension itself is usually symptomless, there are signs and symptoms of stress that might indicate your need for a healthy outlet like meditation or other forms of self-care. Common physical signs of chronic stress include:
- Unexplained body aches
- Chest pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Ongoing digestive issues
- Muscle tension