Is Stress Making Your Hypertension Worse?

Hypertension is a silent killer, as it rarely comes with any symptoms. However, it’s one of the best markers for heart disease, which is the No. 1 killer in the United States. Researchers are still discovering the effects of chronic stress on the circulatory system. But one thing is certain: People who experience more stress also have higher blood pressure. 

To help you determine whether stress is one of the causes of your hypertension, Dr. Samuel I. Fink put together this short guide that explains who’s more likely to develop high blood pressure from stress and what types of stress are harmful.

Pessimism increases your chances of developing hypertension

Do you worry a lot, or do you have a tendency to expect things to turn out the wrong way? Not everyone responds to external stimuli the same way. People at the higher end the neuroticism spectrum get stressed out more often.

Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by high emotional reactivity and pessimism, and studies suggest it’s linked to higher blood pressure levels.

Flawed coping mechanisms could worsen your hypertension

Another school of thought argues that it’s not the stress itself that causes damage to your blood vessels and heart; it’s your reaction to stress that does.

Some research indicates a link between stress and unhealthy habits such as emotional eating, alcoholism, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, the way you deal with stressful situations can influence your blood pressure.

One study that looked at stress levels and how men and women responded to stress found that women were less likely to develop hypertension — not because they experience less stress, but because they manage it better. The majority of men surveyed used comfort food and alcohol to cope after a long day of work, whereas many of the women turned to yoga and relaxation techniques.

Not all types of stress are damaging to your health 

Short-term stress (acute stress) makes your senses sharper, and it improves your focus and motivation levels. Your body increases your adrenaline and cortisol levels to power you through the immediate situation you’re dealing with.

Chronic stress occurs when you can’t immediately solve the main problem you’re facing. Examples of these situations include being in an abusive relationship, suffering from a chronic illness, and living in poverty.

Having elevated adrenaline and cortisol levels over an extended period can lead to higher blood pressure, and it may also cause you to experience anxiety, insomnia, and memory issues.

Get personalized advice on your medical problems 

Stress is just one of the risk factors that can cause hypertension, but there are techniques you can use to help lower your stress and keep your blood pressure in check. Often, lifestyle changes — such as improving your diet and losing weight, practicing relaxation techniques, and quitting smoking — are enough to improve your levels. If such changes aren’t enough, Dr. Fink can prescribe medication.

If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently or if you want to find out how you can avoid complications with your hypertension, contact Samuel I. Fink, MD, to schedule an appointment and get personalized advice and treatment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What Can I Do About My Sleep Apnea?

You should never ignore sleep apnea. Without treatment, this disorder can have a major negative impact on your health. Here’s what you should know about partnering with a sleep apnea specialist.

The Link Between Your Weight and Arthritis

By learning about what you can do to take a proactive role in managing your arthritis, you can live well with the condition. Adopting a healthy diet, exercising, and losing weight can have a powerful impact.

Tips for Managing Hypertension

Managing your blood pressure is a key component to keeping your heart healthy. Fortunately, you can take some proactive steps to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

When Are Headaches Cause for Concern?

Headaches can stop you in your tracks. The good news is that no matter how bothersome your headaches, treatments are available that can help relieve your symptoms so you can get back to living your life.

Helping a Loved One Manage Diabetes

A diabetes diagnosis can feel overwhelming and scary. Fortunately, with good care and support, most people with diabetes live normal, full lives. Supporting a loved one with diabetes can help them better manage the condition.

Who’s More at Risk for Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism can make you feel tired, sluggish, and cold all of the time. Because other conditions may cause similar symptoms, seeing a doctor for a thyroid screening is necessary to get to the root of the problem. Learn about risk factors here.