High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is often called the “silent killer” because it doesn’t produce any signs or symptoms. You may not even know you have high blood pressure until you have a physical exam, or it causes an actual health crisis.
You should proactively check your blood pressure regularly to avoid health consequences caused by high blood pressure, and you should take steps to alleviate any risk factors you can change.
One risk factor commonly associated with high blood pressure is stress. When you’re stressed and upset, your blood pressure naturally increases, so to get your blood pressure lower, you need to decrease your stress.
According to the expert team at Maryland Cardiology Associates, the answer is a little more complicated. Here’s why:
Does stress cause high blood pressure?
Yes and no. Stressful situations — a conflict, a deadline, a sudden emergency — can definitely cause your blood pressure to skyrocket while you’re in the midst of the fire. Your body produces hormones to help you deal with the situation, which makes your heart beat faster and your blood vessels narrow, causing your blood pressure to go up. However, once the problem gets resolved, the hormones dissipate and your blood pressure returns to its typical level.
On the other hand, scientists have not yet found any specific relationship between long-term stress and blood pressure. Your body doesn’t sustain the fight-or-flight reaction for long, and research has found no evidence that states your blood pressure remains elevated when dealing with more long-term stressors.
What can happen, though, is that chronic stress can impact your lifestyle choices, which can have a major affect on your blood pressure.
How can you control your blood pressure by managing stress?
When you’re under long-term stress (such as a difficult job), that stress can work itself out by making unhealthy lifestyle choices. For example, some people stop exercising, make unhealthy dietary choices, isolate themselves, or turn to smoking, drinking, and even drugs. These choices can then lead to weight gain, which exacerbates the situation.
These problems are all risk factors for high blood pressure, which can lead to other serious health concerns, such as heart disease and stroke.
To lower your stress — and your blood pressure — try some of these solutions:
- Exercise (getting your body moving works wonders)
- Eat a healthy diet (stay away from foods high in salt and fat)
- Get 6-8 hours of high-quality sleep (rest is key)
- Therapy (helps you work through stressful issues)
- Meditation (meditation and mindfulness help you control your response to stressors)
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure and need help getting it under control, the caring providers at Maryland Cardiology Associates will be happy to guide you. Feel free to call our Greenbelt, Maryland office or fill out the online appointment request form, and we’ll help get your health back on track!