Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America , anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults every year in the United States. Anxiety can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, including an increase in blood pressure levels.
Although anxiety isnt linked to chronic high blood pressure, both short-term and chronic anxiety may cause your blood pressure to spike.
In this article, well explore the link between anxiety and high blood pressure and treatment options for both.
doesnt cause chronic high blood pressure. However, it can lead to a short-term increase in blood pressure.
When you begin to feel anxious because of a stressful situation, your body enters fight-or-flight mode. This happens due to the activation of your sympathetic nervous system. During fight-or-flight mode, your adrenaline and cortisol levels rise, both of which can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
Although stress and anxiety can cause high blood pressure, its only temporary, and levels generally return to normal once youve calmed down again.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a chronic condition that occurs when blood pressure levels are elevated. Chronic high blood pressure can be quite dangerous and can cause significant damage to the body, especially the brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes.
Hypertension is classified into two categories:
Just like anxiety can cause temporary high blood pressure, high blood pressure can sometimes cause anxiety.
Effect Of Combined Anxiety And Depression On Hypertension Or Hypotension
Logistic regression analyses confirmed the results from the linear regression analyses. We found that a high symptom level of combined anxiety/depression at all three measurements, compared to a lower symptom level, was associated with reduced odds for blood pressure 140/90 mm Hg at year 22 and, conversely, with higher odds for blood pressure < 120/75 mm Hg . Thus, the probability for development of hypertension among individuals with a high symptom level of anxiety/depression at all three examinations was 20% lower compared to those with a lower symptom level.
Ways To Reduce Stress And Keep Blood Pressure Down
When it comes to preventing and treating high blood pressure, one often-overlooked strategy is managing stress. If you often find yourself tense and on-edge, try these seven ways to reduce stress.
For more information on lifestyle changes to treat high blood pressure and how to choose the right medication if needed, read , a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Is There A Connection Between Anxiety And Blood Pressure
Yes, anxiety does have an effect on your blood pressure. Anxiety is part of the autonomic nervous system which controls the automatic functions of the body. These functions include tasks that you do not consciously think about, such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and temperature control. As our bodies react to stressful situations , our blood pressure increases and sometimes even decreases.
Continue reading to learn more about anxiety and blood pressure, including the causes of increased blood pressure and treatment options for both anxiety and high blood pressure.
Can Stress And Anxiety Raise Blood Sugar Levels
Everyone experiences anxiety. In fact, studies show Americans are more stressed out than ever.
But can stress and anxiety actually raise the level of your blood sugar? And what does this mean for those who have diabetes?
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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
This is one reason why its so important to treat your stress and anxiety.
You Shouldn’t Ignore White Coat Hypertension
Some people experience white coat hypertension, when blood pressure is elevated in the doctor’s office but not in other settings. These patients need to monitor their blood pressure at home or wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor that takes your blood pressure every 30 minutes for 24 hours.
While white coat hypertension was formerly considered simple nervousness, recent research suggests otherwise.
A study published in the journal Hypertension found that people with white coat hypertension are at a significantly greater risk for developing sustained high blood pressure than people who have normal blood pressure. One possible explanation is that people with white coat hypertension have a harder time managing stress and anxiety.
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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.
How To Overcome Affected Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is specifically monitored by your brain to ensure that your body is operating at an ideal level. Temporary spikes in blood pressure can cause concerns, but your body creates them for a reason.
It is important to make sure you learn to manage your anxiety to help ensure healthy blood pressure. Whether you have panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc., you still need to make sure that you’re treating your anxiety in order to also treat your anxiety-related high blood pressure.
Anxiety typically makes blood pressure increase, and in some cases can make blood pressure decrease. However, blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day with or without anxiety. It is best to not be too concerned with ones own blood pressure, and instead focus on anxiety reduction.
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Factors That Can Exaggerate Blood Pressure Readings
When you go to the doctors office, measuring blood pressure is one ofthe ways doctors can check up on your heart health. The only way to diagnosehigh blood pressure, or hypertension, is by a blood pressure test.
A healthy blood pressure reading is anywhere between 90/60 and 120/80.Anything 140/90 or above is considered a highblood pressure reading, which couldbe a diagnosis of hypertension, one of the leading causes of heart disease thatcan lead to heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke, and even dementia. If yourblood pressure measures below 90/60, that could be an indicator of hypotension,or low blood pressure, which can result in dizziness, fainting, and long-termdamage to the heart and brain.
Because of the associated risks, a higher or lower than normal blood pressurereading in a healthy adult can be alarming. But did you know there are a numberof factors that can cause a temporary spike or drop in your blood pressure,leading to a false reading? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to preparefor your test to ensure an accurate reading.
Tips For Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes
If you suffer with high blood pressure, its easy to feel intimidated by the changes you need to make in order to improve your health. While some people may only need to work on one or two areas to reduce their blood pressuregetting more exercise or quitting smoking, for examplemost of us find that we need to improve our habits in at least 3 or 4 areas. But even if you smoke, drink heavily, are overweight, stressed out, sedentary, and eat nothing but junk and processed food, that doesnt mean you have to tackle everything all at once. Making lots of different lifestyle changes at the same time can be overwhelming. And when we feel overwhelmed, its easy to opt for doing nothing rather than doing something.
Start gradually and make one or two changes to begin with. Once those changes have become habit, you can tackle one or two more, and so on. For example, you may decide to start by giving up smokingand adopting some relaxation techniques to help with the stress of quittingthen move on to losing weight or improving your diet.
Lose the all or nothing thinking. Doing something, no matter how small, is always better than doing nothing. If youre eating healthy food during the week, for example, then resorting to takeouts at the weekends, your blood pressure and overall health will still be in better shape than if you were eating takeout every day.
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How Much Does Anxiety Raise Blood Pressure
The exact amount that anxiety raises blood pressure varies with each individual. Normal blood pressure is defined as 120/80 mmHg. Anxiety-induced blood pressure can be any blood pressure measuring above this level.
Anxiety triggers the release of brain chemicals called norepinephrine and epinephrine which raise blood pressure. In a medical setting, epinephrine or norepinephrine can be given intravenously to increase blood pressure in patients who are critically ill. This is a proven event that these chemicals increase blood pressure, so it is assumed that it also does so in a normal setting.
Evidence of anxiety-induced blood pressure is also apparent in a condition called white-coat syndrome, which is a condition where people have high blood pressure around medical professionals but have normal blood pressure at home. This effect is usually caused by anxiety provoked during doctor office visits.
Excessive Salt Raises Blood Pressure
Too much sodium can cause water retention that puts increased pressure on your heart and blood vessels. People with high blood pressure and those at a high risk for developing hypertension, including adults over 50 and black men and women, should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily of salt.
Even people with normal levels should eat salt in moderation. Stick to no more than 2,300 mg of sodium , per day.
Most dietary sodium comes from processed foods. Rules of thumb are to choose foods with 5% or less of the daily value of sodium per serving and opt for fresh poultry, fish and lean meats, rather than canned, smoked or processed. Similarly, fresh or frozen vegetables are better than canned.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that if people cut just 1/2 teaspoon of salt per day, it could help lower the number of new cases of heart disease per year by up to 120,000.
Further, potassium found in foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, oranges, low-fat milk and halibut can counterbalance the pressure-increasing effects of sodium by helping to rid the body of excess sodium.
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How To Check Your Blood Pressure At Home
If you have elevated blood pressure in the office, your doctor may ask you to check your blood pressure at home. Taking your blood pressure at home can help your doctor understand whether or not the increased numbers are the result of white coat syndrome or hypertension.
You can purchase an automated blood pressure cuff at most grocery stores, health food stores or pharmacies. These cuffs show your blood pressure reading on a digital monitor.
Its important to track your blood pressure at different points throughout the day. This can help your doctor understand if certain activities or events cause an increase in blood pressure. For the most accurate reading, make sure you also:
- Choose a blood pressure cuff that is the right size. You should be able to put one finger between the cuff and your arm when it is deflated.
- Avoid drinking, exercising or smoking within 30 minutes of taking your blood pressure.
- Sit with your feet on the floor and your back straight when you take your blood pressure. Make sure you are not crossing your legs, arms or feet.
- Take at least two readings every time you track your blood pressure to confirm that the numbers are accurate.
- Take your blood pressure cuff to your doctors office at least once so you can calibrate it against the manual cuff your nurse uses. Your nurse can also confirm that the cuff works correctly.
To learn more about your blood pressure or hypertension, find a healthcare provider near you.
Can Treating Anxiety Lower Blood Pressure
Yes, treating anxiety that causes temporary spikes in blood pressure can be lowered with treatment. Medication and therapy are used to treat anxiety. Anxiety can be diagnosed by a primary care doctor or psychiatrist. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are typical first line medication treatment for anxiety. Can high blood pressure be temporary? Yes, treating anxiety with medication can lower blood pressure by reducing the temporary spike.
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