Does Stress Really Affect Your Blood Pressure?

Does Stress Really Affect Your Blood Pressure?

Running late to work, having an approaching deadline, or getting a flat tire: These are just a few examples of the endless possible stressors in life that get your blood pumping. Stress is strongly linked to anxiety, and these emotions elevate your heart rate and blood pressure in the moment. 

You may wonder if all the stressful incidents throughout your life actually have an effect on your health long-term. Here at Westmed Family Healthcare, in Westminster, Colorado, our experts Clifton Etienne, MDMichael Cavanagh, MD, and Flora Brewington, MD, help you explore the relationship between stress and your health, particularly hypertension

The long-term effect of stress on your body

We know that stress causes your blood pressure to spike when you’re in the heat of frustration. Not only do your heart rate and blood pressure increase due to stress, but you might also feel exhausted after a particularly stressful day. 

Chronic stress does impact your body and overall health. While there is a link between stress and sustained hypertension, the connection isn’t what most people expect it to be. 

Experts aren’t certain that the stress itself causes long-term hypertension, but they do understand that stress impacts your lifestyle and leads to behaviors and circumstances that contribute for certain. 

When you’re stressed, you might struggle to get a good night’s sleep. You might stay awake for hours as your mind races and wake up feeling unrested. Additionally, many people who are stressed can’t find the time to exercise every day or even every week.

Stress can also impact your eating habits, which in turn raises your blood pressure because of factors like atherosclerosis which narrows your veins and arteries. Treating yourself to a particularly large or delectable meal every once in a while as a coping mechanism isn’t so bad, but when it happens all the time, those choices impact your cardiovascular health. 

Stress also makes many people more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of coping. Even smoking cigarettes is a known risk factor for hypertension despite their legality. 

Where stress directly impacts your health

During periods of stress and anxiety, your body releases a myriad of hormones that can cause damage to the insides of your blood vessels. This raises your risk of getting heart disease at some point in life. 

Additionally, if you already take medication for high blood pressure, stress might decrease your adherence to taking them. If you have many responsibilities on your plate at the same time and a lot on your mind, you’re less likely to remember to take a daily medication. 

How to tell if you need to dial back the stress

Our experts at Westmed Family Healthcare measure your blood pressure at every visit and let you know if you have or are at risk of getting hypertension. While hypertension itself is usually symptomless, there are signs and symptoms of stress that might indicate your need for a healthy outlet like meditation or other forms of self-care. 

Common physical signs of chronic stress include:

As long as you continue visiting Westmed Family Healthcare for your annual wellness visits, we can help you identify signs that you’re too stressed and keep your blood pressure in check. Schedule your next annual wellness visit or any other appointment at Westmed Family Healthcare online or over the phone today.

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