Here's How Stress Affects Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a serious condition that affects as many as 75 million Americans. Genetics, diet, lack of activity, and age all influence your risk of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Stress is another contributing factor. Your blood pressure rises temporarily when you’re faced with a stressful event, as when someone pulls out in front of you on the highway or you’re surprised in a dark alley. Your blood vessels constrict and your heart beats faster.

These short-term rises in your blood pressure may add up and create a long-term situation in which your body feels constantly at threat, contributing to chronic high blood pressure.

At Joshua Medical Group, we want to help you manage high blood pressure or avoid developing it in the first place. Understand how stress affects your blood pressure so you can take steps to live a less tense lifestyle.

Stress affects the body

Stress itself isn’t a proven cause of long-term high blood pressure, but the way you react to it certainly is. Stress from work, relationships, and social situations can escalate behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, and junk-food snacking that greatly raise your risk for developing high blood pressure. Plus, stress contributes to health conditions that are associated with chronic diseases such as depression and anxiety, both of which have an association with high blood pressure and heart disease.

Frequent bouts of intense stress, even if temporary, can cause your blood pressure to rise enough to damage your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys.

Temporary bouts of stress activate the “fight or flight” response. But in a modern lifestyle, all sorts of stressful events occur that just don’t go away. This means you’re under stress that inflames the body for weeks or months and could be a major reason your blood pressure remains at high levels.

Stress-reducing habits

You can’t make stress go away. It’s a fact of life, and in some cases, like in the form of exercise, stress can be helpful in facilitating your body’s growth and adaptation.

What you can do is learn to manage stress so it doesn’t overwhelm you and cause adverse health responses.

Simplify

Try simplifying your schedule and saying “no” to extra duties. Commit to less, even if that means making a major shift in priorities.

Relax

Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are other techniques that can help you relax. Research even shows that yoga can be effective as a treatment for reducing blood pressure.

Exercise

Other forms of exercise, such as walking or cycling, can also help reduce your blood pressure by helping you manage stress. Make sure it’s something you enjoy, or the exercise just becomes another added stressor.

Sleep

Exercise can help you sleep better. Proper sleep — such as the recommended seven to nine hours per night — can help your body and mind relax. When you don’t sleep well, problems can seem far worse than they are in reality.

At Joshua Medical Group, we can help you find other ways to manage your blood pressure, too. Ask for recommendations for a healthy diet and optimal exercise schedules. Dr. Gonzalo Martinez can also help manage other conditions, such as diabetes, that can aggravate blood pressure levels.

Come in and have your blood pressure measured as part of a comprehensive exam. Call the office or schedule an appointment using our online tool.

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