Stress is unavoidable. Blame it on rampant overscheduling, the tyranny of social media, or the constant pressure to get ahead — whatever the reason, there’s no escaping it. But if you don’t manage it, it could do some serious damage to your health.
Whenever you’re under duress, the first thing that happens is your brain releases adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that put you in fight-or-flight mode. Your heart rate picks up, you breathe a little faster, and your muscles tense up so you’re ready to act. Once in a while, this is okay — and even important. It’s your body’s way of getting you ready to protect yourself in a dangerous situation. But over time, if you’re under constant stress, this tense mode can take a toll on your system.
Dr. Bharat Gandhi at Medinet Family Care Clinic understands the important connection between stress and your overall health. Too much stress is a factor when it comes to high blood pressure, so he wants to help you do all you can to keep it to a minimum in your life. Dr. Gandhi has 30 years of experience, speaks three languages, and has compassionately served patients of all cultures and backgrounds in the greater Houston area. Here’s what he wants you to know about stress and high blood pressure.
The relationship between stress and high blood pressure
The medical community can’t say for sure whether short-term stress causes long-term high blood pressure, but there is a connection between the two that can’t be denied.
Stress causes blood pressure spikes
Anytime you experience a stressful situation, your blood pressure spikes. If this only happens to you once in a while, there’s nothing to worry about. But if your life is filled with more stress than calm, and you’re constantly in a state of duress, it could be a problem.
When your blood pressure goes up, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels narrow. They can’t survive that condition for long without sustaining serious damage.
Unhealthy responses to stress can increase blood pressure
When you’re emotionally stressed and need something to calm your nerves, you instinctively reach for something comforting. Often, it’s something that feels good in the moment, but is bad for you in the long run, such as:
- High-fat, sugary foods
Too much of these vices can lead to long-term hypertension.
Reducing stress lowers blood pressure
If you already know you have high blood pressure, finding ways to lower your stress can significantly lower your blood pressure as well. There are many ways to manage your stress levels, but they all take a very conscious effort on your part.
It may mean breaking some old unhealthy habits and starting new ones. Not all of the new habits that can help will be right for you, but it’s important to figure out a way to change your lifestyle, keep calm, and get healthy. Here are a few tips you might try:
- Breathing exercises
- Physical exercise
- Prayer and meditation
- Reducing your to-do list
- Adopting a positive outlook
Important stats about high blood pressure
Stress is not the only factor contributing to your high blood pressure. Genetics and age are the primary drivers of hypertension. But regardless of what causes your high blood pressure, it can lead to serious, even fatal, conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- More than 1,000 people in the United States die every day from a condition caused by or related to high blood pressure
- The majority of first heart attacks are due to high blood pressure
- The majority of first strokes are due to high blood pressure
- Most people with chronic heart failure also have high blood pressure
Lowering your blood pressure
Hypertension is a big problem in America, but you don’t have to live with it. There are ways of lowering your blood pressure and increasing your quality of life. You can start by putting down the salt shaker. Making sure your sodium intake stays at no more than 2,300 milligrams a day may make a difference.
Reducing stress, eating healthy foods, and limiting alcohol and tobacco are other ways to control your blood pressure on you your own.
Dr. Ghandi can also help you lower your blood pressure with medications if you need a little more help getting to your goal.
Now that you know the connection between stress and high blood pressure, and high blood pressure and your overall health, you can take some positive steps to change the way you manage stress in your life. If you have questions or need help, give us a call or book an appointment online.