Occasional increases in blood pressure are normal, particularly in response to sudden, stressful situations. When the event passes, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal. It’s a reaction to the hormones released during a crisis, the so-called fight or flight response.
However, low-level, long-lasting stress releases these hormones too. Does this mean that stress causes hypertension, the chronic condition where your blood pressure remains elevated around the clock? While researchers aren’t yet sure if stress causes hypertension, they do know that unhealthy reactions to stress can aggravate blood pressure issues.
Controlling blood pressure typically requires medical treatment and lifestyle changes. Enlisting the help of ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center assures you the best and most up-to-date advice and care for managing your hypertension.
Stress isn’t a singular experience. Acute stress is short-term. It starts with a specific event, like a car accident or perhaps a short deadline to complete a project at work. Your body’s reaction is intense, but it also wears off quickly when the event ends. Elevated blood pressure is part of the body’s reaction to stress.
Chronic stress has a different timeline. Instead of a sudden event, chronic stress arises from issues like a job you hate or constant worrying about paying bills. The physical effects of chronic stress aren’t fully understood. Your reactions to chronic stress may lead to lifestyle choices that contribute to hypertension, though it’s still possible that hormone release during chronic stress adds to the burden.
One problem that arises when evaluating the effects of stress is the personal response to stressful situations. What is a routine part of living for you may be a major stressor for someone else. It’s also possible that you live with chronic stress and its negative influences but don’t realize the effects it has because of its routine nature.
Doctors and researchers agree that successful management of stress is a factor in controlling hypertension. Medications can bring blood pressure numbers down, while altering aspects of your lifestyle may be the best response to reducing stress. Fortunately, there’s no secret to the lifestyle responses that work. Some of the most common of these are:
Adding 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, five days a week, can dramatically reduce blood pressure. Simple activities like walking or swimming make a difference. There’s no need to commit to a gym membership or high-powered workout.
Removing salt and unhealthy fats from your diet while adding lots of fresh fruits and vegetables helps your body respond to stress with nutritional support. Combined with more activity, healthy eating may add up to weight loss, another hypertension reducer.
Eliminating tobacco use and moderating alcohol intake are challenging when dealing with any form of stress. However, these habits add to the health risks of stress and boost blood pressure levels.
Other strategies like practicing gratitude, meditating, and removing stressors from your life can pay dividends too. For a full evaluation and custom treatment plan, contact ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center by phone or online to schedule a consultation.