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.
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
Dealing With Diabetes Can Cause Anxiety
Lets face it: Controlling diabetes is hard work. That in itself is enough to cause worry and stress. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, those with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to experience anxiety than those without the disease.
We understand this, and were dedicated to helping alleviate your worry by working together as a team to address any distressing issues.
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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.
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 .
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How Anxiety Affects Blood Pressure
- Anxiety has a complicated relationship to blood pressure.
- Typically, blood pressure changes from anxiety are not dangerous unless you have a pre-existing condition.
- We identify 4 different causes of blood pressure changes with anxiety.
- Those that frequently monitor blood pressure may also be giving themselves anxiety.
- Blood pressure varies throughout the day, even without anxiety, but an anxiety treatment plan offers a longer-term solution.
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 . 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.
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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.
Temporary Spikes Are Not Dangerous
Those with chronic anxiety may be more prone to high blood pressure spikes, but the body does do a good job of adjusting and blood pressure often gets back to its normal rate for most of the day. You can’t necessarily feel high blood pressure, and while any stress on the body can cause anxiety, it’s more likely that your anxiety causes the spikes than the other way around.
It’s never a bad idea to speak with a doctor about your blood pressure concerns either. Only a doctor can tell you if there is something you should worry about. Also, remember that the more you worry about your blood pressure, the more anxiety you’ll experience, and the more likely you’ll suffer from these blood pressure spikes.
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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?
Blood Pressure Changes And Anxiety
Anxiety is the activation of your fight or flight system a system designed to keep you safe from harm when no danger is present. The fight or flight system causes a number of physical changes that would help you respond to a predator or threat if one was present, but can be distressing when they occur without that danger.
Different types of anxiety can affect your blood pressure in different ways. To understand how anxiety can impact blood pressure, first you must gain a basic understanding of blood pressure and how it fluctuates.
Finally, it is always important to remember that blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day due to exertion, diet, hydration, and more. Blood pressure is not constant even if you do not have any anxiety. So “high blood pressure” may not be high blood pressure at all, and may instead be a reading during one of these fluctuations.
Can Anxiety Treatment Cause High Blood Pressure
Yes. Some medications used for treatment of anxiety can lead to increased blood pressure when taken alone or in combination with other medications. These include:
Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors , such as venlafaxine
Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors , such as bupropion
After prescribing medication for anxiety, your physician will monitor you closely to determine if there are significant changes in your blood pressure.
Physicians take special care to avoid prescribing medications that can cause high blood pressure to those who already have a diagnosis of hypertension. This is why it is important to remind your doctor about any personal or family history of high blood pressure, so that they can select the safest medication for you.
Dysfunctional Coping Skills Can Lead To High Blood Pressure And Hypertension
Short periods of high blood pressure can be brought on sporadically, but people with anxiety disorders have the same likelihood to develop chronic high blood pressure as those without.
These spikes can also happen frequently enough to cause the blood vessel damage found in hypertension, which in turn places stress on the heart, kidneys, and brain.
In addition to periodic spikes, associated dysfunctional coping skills for anxiety are other contributors to increased high blood pressure in the long term. These include smoking, drinking alcohol, and overeating.
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Literature Search And Study Selection
The studys identified and selected procedures are summarized in . Twenty-one studies were finally included in our analysis. Among them, 13 cross-sectional studies,,,, and eight prospective studies,,, of the association between anxiety and hypertension were included in the analysis. General characteristics in the published articles included in this meta-analysis are shown in and . The duration of follow-up ranged from 1 to 25 years for the prospective studies. Stars in and indicate the quality of the study. Among the 13 studies in , three scored nine stars, five scored eight stars, and five scored seven stars. Among the eight studies in , one scored nine stars, five scored eight stars, and one scored six stars. The ORs were extracted or calculated from the original articles. Other characteristics, such as age of participants, sample size, and diagnostic criteria for anxiety were also presented in and .
Anxiety Or Calm Can Cause False Blood Pressure Readings
Medical professionals have long known that blood pressure measured in a doctors office may not match your true normal blood pressure. This may be due to one of two conditions that cause false readings, and recent research shows that both call for more consistent and accurate blood pressure monitoring.
When stress and anxiety caused by a clinic or hospital visit lead to higher-than-normal blood pressure readings, the effect is known as white coat hypertension , or white coat syndrome, named for the coats doctors wear. WCH occurs in about one in five people. Its not necessarily a response to being in the presence of a doctor or nurse the anxiety that some people have before and during a medical visit can trigger the syndrome.
The other condition, known as masked hypertension, is the opposite of WCH. Masked hypertension occurs when people normally have high blood pressure but it doesnt show up when measured in the doctors office.
WCH can lead to an incorrect misdiagnosis of high blood pressure and overmedication. It also may indicate that the persons blood pressure tends to rise when he or she has anxiety for other reasons. Masked hypertension, on the other hand, can prevent needed treatment for high blood pressure.
Changes in Guidelines
The researchers also discovered that many adults suffer from masked hypertension.
Muntner says accurate readings are important for getting the correct treatment.
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Does High Blood Pressure Cause Anxiety
Yes, high blood pressure can cause anxiety because it can make the person worry about their future health and current condition. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. People who are anxious also tend to smoke, drink alcohol, and overeat. All of these habits can raise blood pressure further. Knowing that high blood pressure can cause serious illnesses perpetuates anxiety even further.
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.
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How Does Stress Put Me At Risk For High Blood Pressure
In stressful situations, your body produces hormones like adrenaline, which triggers your fight or flight response. This natural, fear-based response can make your heart temporarily beat faster and work harder. When your heart beats faster and harder, your blood vessels become narrower, which can lead to high blood pressure.
During stressful times, your blood pressure may rise for a short time. Typically, your blood pressure will return to normal once the stressful situation ends.
Don’t 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. That’s why even though there isn’t necessarily any danger to experiencing these blood pressure spikes, you should still make reducing your anxiety a priority.
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Effect Of Pure Anxiety And Pure Depression On Mean Blood Pressure
In analyses using symptoms of anxiety and depression as continuous scores separately at year 11, we found that both anxiety and depression predicted lower blood pressure at year 22. In analyses where anxiety and depression were further adjusted for each other, the remaining effects of anxiety and of depression on blood pressure were attenuated or became non-significant . Further adjustment for other health factors, antihypertensive medication and heart rate slightly attenuated the associations, similarly as shown in Table . Supplementary analyses using anxiety/depression cut-offs confirmed the direction and increased the strength of the associations described above. However, several of the findings became non-significant .
Table 3 Association of anxiety and depression1 at 11-year follow-up with change in blood pressure from 11-year to 22-year follow-up
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.
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