Chronic Stress And Blood Pressure
Researchers dont know as much about the ways chronic stress affects blood pressure, Dr. Laffin notes. But what they do know is that stress can impact your lifestyle habits and increase your risk of health concerns.
Stress can manifest as unhealthy lifestyle habits that can ultimately impact your cardiovascular risk, Dr. Laffin explains. When youre chronically stressed, you may:
- Sleep less or more poorly.
- Not exercise as much.
- Make unhealthy dietary choices.
- Smoke, drink or abuse drugs.
All of these habits can lead to higher blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke or other heart issues.
What Are Anxiety Symptoms
You could be anxious if you experience any of these signs during the course of everyday life:
- Feeling impatient, worried, or tense
- Having a feeling of looming danger, doom, or panic
- Having a fast heartbeat
- Problems concentrating or thinking about something other than the current situation
- Having problems sleeping
How Stress And Anxiety Impact Blood Pressure
Dr. Laffin confirms that there is indeed a relationship between stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and the risk of other heart-related health issues but it might not be what you think.
While stress and anxiety can definitely cause elevated blood pressure, they dont necessarily cause sustained elevations in blood pressure, he says.
To understand this, its important to know about the two categories of stress we experience: acute stress and chronic stress. While both can cause your blood pressure to go up, they have different long-term effects.
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How To Instantly Reduce Blood Pressure
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What Can Cause Anxiety And Stress To Affect Bp
Many factors can contribute to a persons stress levels. An individuals personality, work environment, and social life are just some of the contributing factors. Some people may experience stress that comes from their job, while others may experience stress as a result of a hectic social life or anxiety-inducing personality traits. It could also be a combination of these things that lead someone to feel more stressed than usual.
Anxiety is one major contributor to stress that can affect blood pressure. When you have anxiety, your body enters fight-or-flight mode raising adrenaline and cortisol levels. This can cause your blood pressure to rise because it triggers your sympathetic nervous system and activates your fight-or-flight responses.
In addition to this natural physical response from feeling anxious, there are other things that may also trigger an increase in blood pressure such as chronic pain or even physical activity.
Stress and anxiety can affect your blood pressure in a number of ways. For example, your heart rate is increased during stress and is a major determinant of your blood pressure. However, when you have high levels of stress and anxiety, your heart rate is higher even when youre at rest. This can cause your blood pressure to stay the same, or even decrease slightly.
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The Connection Between Anxiety Disorder And High Blood Pressure
When youre faced with a stressful situationa public speaking engagement, an unexpected call, a panicked crowd, or even a high-pressure work environmentyour fight-or-flight response can be triggered.
According to Michael Wheaton, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College, this may cause your heart rate to speed up, your body to sweat, and your blood pressure to rise temporarily.
“Your body is increasing your heart rate and physiological arousal to be able to manage a potentially dangerous situation, and as a natural consequence, your blood pressure increases during this time,” says Wheaton. “Typically, your blood pressure returns to the normal range as the anxiety passes.”
If you have an anxiety disorder, these spikes can occur more frequently and lead to various physical symptoms, such as irritability, muscle tension, fatigue, and/or difficulty sleeping, as well as high blood pressure.
Your body is increasing your heart rate and physiological arousal to be able to manage a potentially dangerous situation, and as a natural consequence your blood pressure increases during this time. Typically your blood pressure returns to the normal range as the anxiety passes.
Those with hypertension are also more likely to have or develop an anxiety disorder, depression, and other mental health conditionsand studies have shown that 37.1% of patients with pulmonary hypertension experience anxiety.
Tips For Decreasing Anxiety
- Eating a healthy diet that can improve heart health
- Practicing mindfulness or meditation
- Reducing as many life stressors as you canthis may mean saying no more or re-prioritizing tasks and accepting that you may just not get to some things.
- Medications are sometimes appropriate as either a short-term step or a longer-term management tool for people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
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What Is High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force with which your blood travels through your blood vessels, and high blood pressure is when that pressure is too strong. Blood pressure can be affected by how intensely your heart pumps, how much blood you have in your body, and how wide or narrow your blood vessels are. There is a range of normal blood pressures, which can increase or decrease due to normal activities , age, medications, and more.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when blood pressure is consistently higher than normal. This can cause a range of health issues due to strain on the blood vessels, as well as damage to the heart and other organs .
Since hypertension, especially in its early stages, often doesnt cause symptoms, many people dont even know that they have it . When it does cause symptoms, theyre typically related to the pressure of the blood pumping too strongly. You may notice a headache, but more often, its diagnosed during a routine check-up or after an event like a heart attack or stroke.
When Does Acute Stress Become Chronic Stress
Because we all handle stress in different ways, it can be hard to see the signs of acute stress turning into chronic stress. Stressors that last for weeks on end turn into chronic stressors that need to be addressed for the sake of your heart health
If a couple of weeks turn into a couple of months, and a couple of months turn into a couple of years, it can be very difficult to turn those patterns around, Dr. Laffin warns. It also becomes harder to get rid of some extra belly fat, which ends up rising blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol and more.
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How Stress And Anxiety Can Build Over Time
Constant, chronic stress can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Long-term stress may increase cortisol production, which can raise both your blood pressure and body weight, two factors that influence a persons risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, chronic stress can also cause chronic anxiety and depression.
Anxiety Raises Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can be affected by both short-term and long-term anxiety.
It’s well known that acute anxiety can dramatically increase blood pressure levels. The rise happens because of the body’s response to sudden stress, known as the “fight or flight response.”
When we encounter a stressor, our bodies release hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. These hormones prepare our bodies to respond to a threat by diverting blood flow from the abdomen to increase blood flow to the muscles so that we can run away if necessary. As a result, our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate all go up.
The effects of chronic anxiety on blood pressure are still debated. Studies have shown conflicting evidence of a relationship between anxiety and high blood pressure. However, more recent studies do suggest a possible link between the two conditions.
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Anxiety And High Blood Pressure Medication
Treating anxiety and/or high blood pressure is important to your health, but you may be wondering if medication could make either condition worse. The answer? It depends.
Most of the typical medications used to treat anxiety actually tend to lower blood pressure by blunting the stress response to anxiety, Dr. Jacobs says.
In fact, beta blockers, a commonly prescribed medication for hypertension and heart disease, are also prescribed as an off-label drug for anxiety. On the flip side, if youre prescribed a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor , monoamine oxidase inhibitors , or norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors , which are antidepressants, theres a chance that it can raise blood pressure. SSRIs are not known to cause hypertension. If blood pressures increase with SNRIs this may be related to the potency of norepinephrine effects. SNRIs may cause transient hypertension, but rarely lead to medication-dependent treatment. MAOIs are a drug class that is rarely used anymore. But, its important to know that MAOIs may cause hypertensive crisis, especially if the medication interacts with another medication or a food. It is good practice to take your blood pressure twice a week after starting any new medication to confirm that your blood pressure is maintaining less than 135/85.
Anxiety Disorders: What You Need To Know
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions which are similarly defined by intense negative feelings of anxiety, unease or panic.
There are subtypes of anxiety disorder, each of which can have overlapping symptoms panic disorder, for instance, may include milder anxiety, while mild anxiety may occasionally include a sense of severe panic.
Restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, feeling regularly on edge or wound-up, increases in blood pressure, experiencing difficulty concentrating, patterns of irritability and uncontrollable worry are all symptoms.
And those symptoms should be felt most days for at least six months for a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder .
Anxietys true nature isnt fully understood, but we do know that this mood disorder is caused by imbalances of brain chemicals.
There is no cure for anxiety, but we do have ways of treating it, which well get to shortly.
But lets talk about one symptom in more depth: blood pressure increases.
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Anxiety And Blood Pressure: Whats The Link
Anxiety is the bodys physical response to stress. Heavy breathing, feeling butterflies in your stomach, or getting a sudden burst of energy are all physical manifestations of anxiety. Feeling anxious at times is completely normal and can even be helpful in certain situations. We all have a fight or flight response, like if you saw a bear in the woods your body would generate the epinephrine needed to run quickly. When you experience these short episodes of anxiety, increased heart rate and a short-term blood pressure spike is both likely and helpful. Blood pressure varies moment to moment in all people, says Evan Jacobs, MD, primary care physician at Conviva Care Center in Parkland, Florida. Stressors such as pain, discomfort, or anxiety will elevate blood pressure temporarily and this is a normal reaction.
Long-term high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, isnt just the temporary result of a stressful situationits when blood pressure is consistently too high, according to the American Heart Association. Hypertension is a common health condition, nearly half of American adults have it. When patients have uncontrolled elevated blood pressure, it may make patients feel anxious. When blood pressure is controlled with medication, patients often feel calmer and less jittery.
Will Xanax Help Lower Blood Pressure
Yes, it may lower your blood pressure over the long term but regular uptake is not recommended.
Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine and its not recommended for long-term use. The body becomes dependent on the drug at which point regular usage is necessary to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
When you stop taking Xanax, your blood pressure may go up. If you need to lower your BP, there are other options such as lifestyle changes, supplements, and herbal remedies that dont have the same risks.
Anxiety And Your Blood Pressure
Lately, maybe youve been feeling jumpy and anxious and wondering what all that worry could be doing to your blood pressure. Can anxiety cause high blood pressure?
Its kind of a chicken and egg scenario: Anxiety may lead to high blood pressure. But a diagnosis of high blood pressureand its implicationsmay also trigger feelings of anxiety.
Untreated high blood pressure can set the stage for heart attack, stroke and other complications by damaging blood vessels throughout your body. A blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal.
Systolic blood pressure, the upper number in a blood pressure measurement, refers to how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure, the lower number, refers to how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart is at rest between beats.
Anxiety disorders are different from temporary stresslike the kind that kicks in before a big job interview or in the wake of a major life decision.
Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobias are characterized by near-constant worry and often physical symptoms that interfere with daily life. About 40 million people in the U.S. will have an anxiety disorder in any given year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
The Connection Between Anxiety And Hypertension
Anxiety is a mental health condition that many people experience, and though it can be difficult to deal with, its not something to be ashamed of. It can produce symptoms that are hard to control, including cardiovascular manifestations like palpitations and an increased heart rate.
However, it can also be managed with things like lifestyle changes, a good support system, talking to a therapist, and medication, if you and your provider feel like thats right for you. If you have chronic anxiety, you may be concerned about whether it can cause high blood pressure or perhaps worsen existing hypertension.
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Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure
When you are stressed, your body responds in a couple of ways. Your heart rate and pulse quicken, your muscles tighten, and your blood pressure also rises. Being in a constant state of stress has been linked to the development of high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension.
High blood pressure is a condition that increases your risk of developing heart conditions. If left undiagnosed, it can be fatal. In this article, learn how exactly stress and high blood pressure are connected and how stress can trigger the development of high blood pressure.
Tips For Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes
If you suffer with high blood pressure, its easy to feel intimidated by the changes you need to make in order to improve your health. While some people may only need to work on one or two areas to reduce their blood pressuregetting more exercise or quitting smoking, for examplemost of us find that we need to improve our habits in at least 3 or 4 areas. But even if you smoke, drink heavily, are overweight, stressed out, sedentary, and eat nothing but junk and processed food, that doesnt mean you have to tackle everything all at once. Making lots of different lifestyle changes at the same time can be overwhelming. And when we feel overwhelmed, its easy to opt for doing nothing rather than doing something.
Start gradually and make one or two changes to begin with. Once those changes have become habit, you can tackle one or two more, and so on. For example, you may decide to start by giving up smokingand adopting some relaxation techniques to help with the stress of quittingthen move on to losing weight or improving your diet.
Lose the all or nothing thinking. Doing something, no matter how small, is always better than doing nothing. If youre eating healthy food during the week, for example, then resorting to takeouts at the weekends, your blood pressure and overall health will still be in better shape than if you were eating takeout every day.
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