About one in three adults in the United States have high blood pressure, or hypertension - that’s about 75 million adults. The problem is that many people don’t even know they have the condition, which is sometimes called the “silent killer” because there are no warning signs or symptoms.
If you have high blood pressure, John Monroe, MD and our caring team at Healthy Life Family Medicine can help you manage the situation, starting with your stress levels. Sometimes, stressful situations can cause a spike in blood pressure, but does that mean there’s a link between stress and hypertension?
Does stress cause hypertension?
When you are in a stressful situation, your body produces a rush of hormones than can temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to constrict. This is only for a few moments, though.
Researchers have not found any proof that stress itself leads directly to long-term high blood pressure, but reacting to stress in unhealthy ways can certainly increase your risk of hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.
Some behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, and eating unhealthy foods, have been linked to hypertension. These behaviors can easily happen if you are constantly stressed. Other health conditions related to stress include anxiety and depression, which can also make your health worse.
How to reduce stress
The longer you live with hypertension, the greater the risk to your health. High blood pressure can cause heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and other conditions. If your stress is driving you to unhealthy behaviors that in turn are driving your blood pressure up, it’s time to stop. Try the following tactics for reducing the stress in your life:
- Slow down. Simplify your schedule. If you are always rushing, look at your calendar and figure out what you can cut out. Look first for things that take up a lot of time but aren’t that important to you. Getting rid of activities like these can give you margin and help you slow down.
- Learn relaxation techniques. Taking deep and slow breaths, following guided meditation and muscle relaxation exercises, and doing yoga are all powerful techniques for relieving your stress.
- Exercise. Physical activity has long been an antidote to stress. Schedule regular time to get your body moving.
- Connect with others. Build your network. Join a group, take a class, find a cause. Life works much better when you’re not alone.
- Sleep. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Getting too little sleep can negatively affect both your mental health and your physical health.
- Be open. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if things are too much for you. Whether it’s counseling, therapy, or just talking to a friend, getting things out in the open can sometimes be the best medicine.
While stress does not necessarily lead directly to hypertension, it can lead to other behaviors that negatively affect your physical and mental health.
Contact our team at Healthy Life Family Medicine by calling or booking online to get started with a program to monitor and treat any symptoms you may have. Being proactive about your health is the best kind of medicine!