How Does Stress Affect Your Blood Pressure
You might experience short-term stress when you feel under pressure, overwhelmed, uncertain, or concerned about something. Its normal to feel stressed occasionally, perhaps because you need to meet a major deadline at work or youre going through a stressful process, like moving house. When you are stressed, much like when you are feeling nervous about something, your body produces more cortisol and adrenaline, causing your blood pressure to spike.
Since stress is usually caused by an external trigger, its effect on the body is temporary. However, chronic stress or anxiety can lead to long-term health problems and damage to your body.
Keep A Close Eye On Your Blood Sugar Levels
Its always important to keep tabs on your stress and blood sugar. Thats why we recommend a fasting blood sugar test at every yearly physical.If your blood sugar starts to creep upwards, we can be proactive and start measures to help you.
This is particularly important if you have diabetes or prediabetes. In fact, if you have these conditions, we may suggest that you have blood sugar screenings more often. We can guide you through when you should check your blood sugar, and our dietitian can help you select healthy meals.
Can Bp Meds Cause Mental Illness
Depression and other mental-health disorders can be treated with blood pressure drugs. There are a variety of prescription drugs that may cause depression or other mood disorders. In addition to asthma and acne medications, there are also corticosteroids, which treat inflammation, and contraceptives.
Recommended Reading: What Anti Anxiety Medication Has The Least Side Effects
How Stress Affects Your Health
In addition to the emotional discomfort we feel when faced with a stressful situation, our bodies react by releasing stress hormones into the blood. These hormones prepare the body for the fight or flight response by making the heart beat faster and constricting blood vessels to get more blood to the core of the body instead of the extremities.
Constriction of blood vessels and increase in heart rate does raise blood pressure, but only temporarily when the stress reaction goes away, blood pressure returns to its pre-stress level. This is called situational stress, and its effects are generally short-lived and disappear when the stressful event is over.
Fight or flight is a valuable response when we are faced with an imminent threat that we can handle by confronting or fleeing. However, our modern world contains many stressful events that we cant handle with those options. Chronic stress causes our bodies to go into high gear on and off for days or weeks at a time. The links between chronic stress and blood pressure are not clear and are still being studied.
What Are Anxiety Symptoms
You could be anxious if you experience any of these signs during the course of everyday life:
- Feeling impatient, worried, or tense
- Having a feeling of looming danger, doom, or panic
- Having a fast heartbeat
- Problems concentrating or thinking about something other than the current situation
- Having problems sleeping
- Controlling anxiety relies on knowing its happening and being cognizant of its symptoms beforehand.
- Stop drinking coffee and alcohol at the same time. That could be much harder later.
- Write down a missive with details about your panic attack the triggers, the time it happened.
- Feelings of loneliness, pressure to succeed, depression, certain phobias, can be lowered by talking to a doctor, therapist, or trusted loved one.
Don’t Miss: How To Describe Social Anxiety
Responding To Low Blood Pressure
Everyone’s blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. At any moment, it may be lower or higher than recommended based on what a person has eaten, how much water they have ingested, whether they are sitting or standing, or even how they cross their legs.
That low or high blood pressure alone is usually not a concern unless a person has a heart problem, as the body is expected to go through these different fluctuations.
The Connection Between Anxiety And Hypertension
Anxiety is a mental health condition that many people experience, and though it can be difficult to deal with, its not something to be ashamed of.
It can produce symptoms that are hard to control, including cardiovascular manifestations like palpitations and an increased heart rate.
However, it can also be managed with things like lifestyle changes, a good support system, talking to a therapist, and medication, if you and your provider feel like thats right for you.
If you have chronic anxiety, you may be concerned about whether it can cause high blood pressure or perhaps worsen existing hypertension.
Read Also: Can Social Media Cause Anxiety
Facts About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects your health at every level
There’s a good reason why every doctor’s appointment starts with a blood pressure check. While one in three American adults has high blood pressure, about 20% of people are unaware that they have it because it is largely symptomless.
In fact, most people find out they have high blood pressure during a routine office visit.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is when that force is too high and begins harming the body. If left untreated, it willl eventually cause damage to the heart and blood vessels.
Your blood pressure is measured in two numbers: The top systolic blood pressure measures the force pushing against artery walls when the heart is contracting. The bottom diastolic blood pressure measures pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between beats.
Normal blood pressure levels are 120 mmHg/80 mmHg or lower. At risk levels are 120-139 mmHg/80-89 mmHg. Readings of 140 mmHg/90 mmHg or higher are defined as high blood pressure.
Here are six other things you should know about high blood pressure.
How Stress Affects Blood Pressure
Reviewed byDr. Victor Marchione, MD.Written byMohan GarikiparithiPublished onOctober 27, 2020
If youre watching the news these days, I bet youre feeling stressed. You may feel it even more if youre on social media. For some, leaving home can send stress levels skyrocketing.
And it can all be boosting your blood pressure too.
Stress can affect blood pressure in several ways. One acute effect is vasocontraction. Blood vessels tighten up to concentrate blood in the core of the body. This effect is caused by the release of stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol, which also increase your heart rate.
This fight or flight response will fade as the stressful period passes. But that doesnt necessarily mean youre out of the woods. There is data to suggest that chronic stress may have a long-term effect on blood pressure.
Chronic psychological stress may play a role in hypertension. A 2013 study found that stress resulting from work, marriage, social isolation, money troubles, racial discrimination, and more may contribute to lasting high blood pressure.
Living under continued stress may evoke a long-term sympathetic nervous system response, potentially making it an independent risk factor for high blood pressure.
However, more work is required to determine if and how long-term stress exposure elicits biological changes to promote hypertension.
If you dont like reading, find another productive activity that brings joy.
Also Check: How To Treat Anxiety Induced Nausea
Can High Blood Pressure Cause Anxiety
High blood pressure doesnt directly cause general anxiety disorder. However, long-term high blood pressure can be difficult to cope with, and its normal to feel anxious or upset about it, especially when youre newly diagnosed.
Experiencing daily stress from a chronic illness can certainly contribute to anxiety if it continues for a long time. And some symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder may overlap with symptoms of high blood pressure, like an elevated heart rate. But having high blood pressure doesnt necessarily mean youre going to be depressed or anxious.
Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure
Passing moments of stress and anxiety can cause temporary rises in blood pressurewhich typically resolves in calmer times. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, your body releases stress hormones to help you deal with it. Adrenaline boosts heart rate, blood pressure, and energy. Cortisol increases blood sugar and your brains access to glucose to improve mental function. The goal? The fight-or-flight response primes you to cope with the perceived threat. When the danger has passed, your hormonesand the systems they impactget back to normal.Thats a good thing, because when your stress response is constantly activated, it can cause a host of problems, including chronic hypertension. Research findings show that chronic stress can raise blood pressure more than just temporarily. Elevated blood pressure is several consistent readings of 120-129/< 80, and hypertension is several consistent readings > =130/> 80.
A side effect of stress hormones constantly flooding your system is restricted blood flow. This is similar to you trying to drink from a stirring straw versus a regular size drinking straw, according to LaTosha Flowers, MD, a family medicine physician and the founder of Med Concierge and More. When your heart has to work harder to push blood through the body, it increases blood pressure. Simply put when cortisol is high, so is our blood pressure, Dr. Flowers says.
You May Like: How To Not Have A Anxiety Attack
Prospective Studies Of Anxiety Predicting Hypertension Risk
Eight prospective studies investigated the association between the baseline anxiety status and incident hypertension with a total sample size of 80,146 and 2,394 hypertension case subjects. Characteristics of the studies are shown in Table 2. The pooled adjusted HR by REM was 1.55 , with strong heterogeneity detected . No publication bias was detected .
Random effects meta-analysis of prospective studies of the association between anxiety and risk of hypertension .
Note: Weights are from random effects analysis.
Abbreviations: HR, hazards ratio CI, confidence interval.
What Happens In Your Body When You Get Stressed
Stress hormones have a big role to play.
When youre experiencing physical or emotional stress, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar. Cortisol and adrenaline are other primary hormones involved.
This is a perfectly natural response. For example, if youre being chased by a barking dog or youre in a dangerous situation, you need these hormones to prepare your body for a fight or flight situation.
But when youre stressed, your body releases these hormones, even if there isnt a major physical threat involved.
The result? Higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and a rise in blood sugar.
The problem becomes more complicated.
If youre consistently under stress, your hormones and sugar will continue to surge.
Over time, this can put you at risk for:
- Heart disease
Dont Miss: Depression Topography
Read Also: What Natural Meds Are Good For Anxiety
Taking Care Of Yourself When Stressed
When were stressed, we typically dont take good care of ourselves.
Theres a reason they call it comfort food. For most people, chocolate or fast food seems to be the first thing they reach for when were stressed.
Stress also makes it tempting to put off your regular exercise routine in favor of the couch and a Netflix binge.
These can all become deciding factors in a spike in blood sugar.
Need a solution? Get moving when youre stressed. Dont feel like you have to complete an extensive cardio routine. Often something as simple as a walk around the block can make a difference in your mood.
Calcium Channel Blockers Slow The Beat
Calcium causes stronger heart contractions. These medications slow its movement into the cells of your heart and blood vessels. That eases your heartbeat and relaxes your blood vessels. These meds can cause dizziness, heart palpitations, swollen ankles, and constipation. Take them with food or milk. Avoid grapefruit juice and alcohol because of possible interactions.
Read Also: How To Deal With Sudden Anxiety
Anxiety And Low Blood Pressure
Occasionally, anxiety works in the opposite way, causing a reduction in blood pressure.
This drop may occur because, during periods of intense anxiety, some people take very shallow breaths. The blood vessels then become wider, reducing blood pressure.
A 2011 study identified an association between the symptoms of anxiety and depression and a decrease in blood pressure, especially in people who have experienced a high level of anxiety symptoms over a prolonged period of decades.
This relationship also seems to work in both directions as low blood pressure, or hypotension, may sometimes cause anxiety and panic. Its symptoms can be similar to those of anxiety and include:
- blurred vision
Donât Miss: Vodka Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure Is Linked To Other Medical Issues
High blood pressure can be the first indication of a serious underlying condition. When a patient comes in with high blood pressure, doctors will check their urine and kidney function do an electrocardiogram to check the size of the heart and look for lung changes.
Stress on the blood vessels makes people with hypertension more prone to heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and aneurysms. Correspondingly, chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea and high cholesterol increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.
In some women, pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to preeclampsia. Postpartum blood pressure typically goes back to normal levels within six weeks. However, some women who have high blood pressure during more than one pregnancy may be more likely to develop high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as they age.
Some of these medical issues can also cause spikes in high blood pressure .
You May Like: How To Get A Job With Social Anxiety
Other Medications Can Help
Vasodilators, alpha blockers, and central agonists also relax blood vessels. Side effects can include dizziness, a fast heartbeat or heart palpitations, headaches, or diarrhea. Your doctor may suggest them if other blood pressure medications don’t work well enough or if you have another condition.
Anxiety And Your Heart
High blood pressure is a silent killer. It often doesnt feel like its affecting your body, but chronic high blood pressure can be dangerous and even deadly. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and heart attack in the United States.
When youre stressed or anxious, your nervous system releases hormones called catecholamines that affect your blood pressure. The fight-or-flight response can increase your heart rate, which can increase your blood pressure. This is why managing your stress levels and anxiety is so important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Anxiety can also lead to other problems that can negatively affect your health, such as insomnia, which increases cortisol levels in the body and increases your risk of developing high blood pressure because cortisol affects our cardiovascular system by increasing the production of fatty acids that may lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.
Anxiety can also make you sweat more due to hormones being released when were feeling tense, which causes dehydration and increases our likelihood of developing high blood pressure. In this case, you may want to consider using an herbal supplement designed for anxiety relief such as L-theanine or 5-HTP to help with this problem.
Also Check: How To Help Someone Who Has Anxiety
Dont Be Too Concerned
High blood pressure spikes can be a concern in those with heart disease, but are generally harmless in those without. Still, you never want to deal with too much high blood pressure. Hypertension can put stress on your heart and possibly damage your blood vessels. Thatâs why even though there isnât necessarily any danger to experiencing these blood pressure spikes, you should still make reducing your anxiety a priority.
Was this article helpful?
The Importance Of Stress Management
In todays fast-paced world filled with increasing demands, stress management is a life skill and a lifesaver. Its also important to note that while the link between stress and high blood pressure is still being studied, stress is known to contribute to risk factors like a poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption.
Also Check: How Do I Treat Anxiety Disorder
Overcome Blood Pressure Anxiety Compulsion To Take Continued Readings
Remind yourself that hypertension if youre ever diagnosed with it is extremely treatable with diet, exercise and stress management + other modifiable factors.
When you hear someone say, Ive tried exercise and diet but my high blood pressure wont budge, realize that their assessment of what would be effective diet and exercise could be quite subjective.
- Crack down on a plant-based diet and keep daily sodium intake under 2,000 mg.
- Eat five to seven servings a day of raw vegetables and fruits .
- Adopt a strength training and cardio exercise program.
- If you smoke, QUIT.
Take your BP only once a day, when you are most relaxed, never when you have anxiety.
Write down the reading in a special log. When data is written down, you wont be as inclined to keep taking more readings on that same day.
Remind yourself that blood pressure is a highly fluctuating function. You cant be continuously taking readings that can be easily influenced by anxiety.
Remind yourself that high blood pressure is highly treatable. This isnt cancer!
The fitter, faster and stronger your body, the less likely youll worry about acquiring an ailment that mostly affects people who do not take proper care of their bodies .
Focus on THAT number, not the one on your blood pressure machine.
S To Lowering Your Blood Pressure
The first line of treatment for high blood pressure is to make healthy lifestyle changes:
Its also important to take any antihypertensive medications your doctor recommends. There are many different types of medications available to control high blood pressure, so if one drug causes unpleasant side effects, your doctor can help you find a more suitable one.
Even if your doctor also prescribes you medication to help tackle hypertension, controlling your weight, quitting smoking, improving your diet, managing stress, and getting regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape and managing your blood pressure over the long term.
If youve just been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or have suffered a serious health event such as a stroke or heart attack, you may be experiencing a great deal of emotional upheaval. Its important to give yourself time to process the change in your health and be kind to yourself as you adjust to your new situation. But its also important to know there are plenty of things you can do to come to terms with your diagnosis and regain control of your health.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Treatment For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Recommended Reading: How To Help My Wife With Anxiety And Depression