Known as a silent killer, high blood pressure can quietly damage your body without causing noticeable symptoms for years, even decades. Sometimes, the first symptom is a heart attack or stroke. It’s estimated that more than 100 million Americans have hypertension, according to data from the American Heart Association. Many adults are unaware that they have high blood pressure and remain untreated as a result.
Several factors contribute to hypertension, and did you know that stress plays a role? At California Heart and Vein Specialists, our team would like you to know about the connection between hypertension and stress.
Stress raises blood pressure
Chronic or lasting stress is a risk factor for hypertension. On the temporary side of things, stress causes a surge of cortisol, a hormone responsible for a number of physiological activities. A spike in cortisol temporarily raises blood pressure; it’s meant to help your body get through stressful situations.
Lasting daily stress is a bigger problem. Humans aren’t designed to withstand high levels of constant stress. The hormones and other chemicals involved in the body’s stress response can cause damage, including to your blood vessels when elevated for a prolonged period of time. While the chemical reactions involved in ongoing stress are complex, one thing is certain: Stress is bad news for your heart.
High blood pressure makes you feel stressed
Stress and blood pressure have a two-way connection. That is, having a diagnosis of high blood pressure increases feelings of stress and anxiety. Patients with hypertension report more levels of stress than people with normal blood pressure levels.
What’s more, when patients with high blood pressure feel stressed, they may sabotage their treatment regimen meant help them control their blood pressure. Studies have found that patients with hypertension who report feelings of stress and anxiety are less likely to take their medication consistently as directed.
Prolonged stress damages blood vessels
In addition to spiking blood pressure, the chemical cascade involved in lasting stress responses can damage blood vessels, causing them to become hard and stiff and reducing blood flow. To meet the demand for blood supply, your heart then must pump harder, raising blood pressure. If this keeps up, your blood vessels continue to harden and become narrow, setting the stage for a downhill slide of circulatory health.
Alleviating stress to lower blood pressure
Science has spoken: Taming stress can lower blood pressure and help you get better control. In today’s fast-paced life, it’s easy to get caught up in the rigors of daily responsibilities and forget to take some time to relax. Financial stress, work responsibilities, social interactions, and home environment are all factors that can increase your stress and impact your heart health.
Adopting healthy habits are an excellent way to alleviate stress. Taking time out to engage in relaxing activities that you enjoy — like yoga, swimming, and meditation — go a long way in helping to keep blood pressure levels in check. Avoiding taking on too much responsibility and delegating when necessary also can reduce stress.
Keep your heart healthy
Maintaining your heart health requires a comprehensive approach of lifestyle change and sometimes medication. When lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to bring your blood pressure within a normal range, Dr. Majed Chane can prescribe medication.
You can successfully manage your high blood pressure. To learn more about the steps you can take to get your blood pressure under control, call our office in Huntington Beach, California, to schedule an appointment. You can conveniently book your request online as well.