• The Link Between Stress and Hypertension

    on Jul 9th, 2019

Did you know that controlling stress can help manage high blood pressure? If you have hypertension, or have a heightened risk for developing the disease, making changes to curb stress can lower your blood pressure and make it easier to manage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can silently damage your body for years before symptoms develop. 

High blood pressure can cause your arteries to stiffen, paving the way for heart disease. Reducing stress is an often overlooked aspect of keeping your blood pressure down. 

Stress and blood pressure

While stress isn’t directly responsible for causing high blood pressure, it can influence the disease’s development in various ways. Your body is designed to handle stress temporarily. When you’re under stress, your body makes physiological adaptations to help through the situation. This includes a spike in hormones that causes blood vessels to narrow, known as vasoconstriction.

Researchers aren’t sure whether repeated spikes in blood pressure from lasting (chronic) stress cause high blood pressure. However, we as heart specialists know that stress is linked to hypertension and that overall, stress is bad for your heart and circulatory system.

Hypertension increases stress and vice versa

High blood pressure and stress have an intimate connection. Your body and brain maintain two-way communication. Things that affect your brain can affect your body and vice versa. When you endure emotional stress, your blood pressure rises. 

In the same respect, having elevated blood pressure can make you feel stressed. According to health surveys, patients with hypertension report more feelings of stress and anxiety than those without hypertension.

Responses to stress can contribute to hypertension 

The way you respond to stress can greatly influence your blood pressure. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and eating unhealthy foods are all known to have a negative impact on blood pressure and increase the risk of hypertension. If you’re worried about your blood pressure, it’s wise to try to quit smoking, limit your alcohol intake and adopt healthy eating habits.

Lowering stress helps manage hypertension

Activities that reduce stress can help you feel better and lower your blood pressure. Here are some of the best ways to curb stress and get blood pressure in check.

Exercise

Physical activity not only benefits your overall health; exercising 3-5 days a week lowers stress and blood pressure. This doesn’t mean you have to drag yourself to the gym every week. 

The best way to get exercise is to engage in an activity you enjoy, one that happens to entail physical movement. Swimming, biking, hiking and rock climbing are activities that get your blood pumping. If you enjoy the activity you choose, you’re much more likely to stick with it and reap the benefits.

Rein in workplace stress 

Job worries are a major contributor to long-term stress levels. While most jobs involve dealing with some level of stress here and there, high levels of chronic stress can damage your overall health, from your mental health to your heart health. 

Consider ways to reduce workplace stress. This may include delegating work, taking vacation time, or even changing careers. Making small changes can have big results. For instance, eating outdoors during lunch if you typically eat at your desk or inside can lower stress and have a positive impact on your well-being. 

Stress-busting activities lower blood pressure 

In addition to exercising, stress-busting activities like yoga, meditation and massage can significantly lower stress and lower blood pressure when you make them a regular part of your lifestyle. 

Activities like yoga aren’t just for gurus. Beginner’s yoga involves poses and breathing that slow your heart rate and lower stress chemicals like cortisol. Regularly engaging in yoga and other stress-relieving activities can help you manage your blood pressure.

Heart health is in your hands

Leading cardiologist Dr. Rajesh Sam Suri is dedicated to helping you keep your heart as healthy as possible. He may recommend lifestyle changes, along with medication when necessary, to bring your blood pressure within a healthy range. 

 

To learn more about how we can help you manage your blood pressure, we invite you to call our Fremont or Hayward, California, clinic to schedule an appointment with Dr. Suri. 

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