Is Stress Causing Your Hypertension?

Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure, and it’s a serious threat to your health. It’s a silent condition that often causes no symptoms until it’s too late. That’s why many people with high blood pressure are completely unaware of it. 

Talking with your health care team about blood pressure is a good place to start when it comes to protecting your heart and living a longer, fuller life.

Hypertension fast facts

As the most common cause of heart disease-related deaths, hypertension is an extremely common, yet dangerous, condition. It’s defined as a reading of at least 130/80 based on the newest guidelines.

More than 100 million adults in America have high blood pressure, according to the latest American Heart Association statistics, and only half of those have it under control. Medical professionals see more men with hypertension than women until the age of 45. In people 45 and over, hypertension affects men and women equally.

Why healthy blood pressure matters

Blood pressure refers to the force against your blood vessels when your heart beats and rests. If you have hypertension, this force is consistently too great. Normal blood pressure varies throughout the day depending on your activities. The problem with hypertension is that the force against the artery walls remains too high all the time.

Excessive force against blood vessels causes damage. They go from flexible and relaxed, to stiff and narrow, and this spells trouble for your heart. Hypertension contributes to heart disease and is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Stress is bad news for blood pressure

Stress is unavoidable. Your body is designed to handle stressful situations by releasing chemicals that help your body and mind cope. This is designed as a temporary adaptive strategy to get you through stressful situations.

Trouble starts when stress is ongoing. The chemicals meant to help you cope with temporary stress can wreak havoc on your body when those chemicals remain elevated over time. Take cortisol, for example. This stress hormone is helpful in controlled spikes, and it aids physiological adaptation to stress. 

Too much cortisol for too long is another story. Prolonged elevation of cortisol causes lasting increases in blood pressure and damages your body, causing ongoing inflammation that damages blood vessels.

Managing stress fights hypertension

Activities that reduce stress can help you feel better and lower your blood pressure. Here are some good ways to start destressing.

Exercise

Engaging in physical activity three to five days a week lowers stress and blood pressure. It’s best to find an activity that you enjoy that gets you moving. Whether its swimming, hiking, biking, or rock climbing, it’s been proven that you’re likely to stick with exercise if you actually enjoy the activity.

Tame workplace stress

Job pressure is a major cause of long-term stress. Give some thought to ways you can reduce workplace stress. This may mean cutting down your workload, delegating tasks or taking vacation time. Even small changes, like eating your lunch outdoors, can have a positive impact on stress levels.

Stress-busting activities

Stress-busting activities like meditation, yoga, or getting a massage can go a long way to curbing stress. These activities are proven to lower stress-related chemicals and reduce blood pressure.

Protecting your heart health

Whether it’s job pressure, family stress, or academic expectations, ongoing stress is bad news for your heart health. Regular checkups with your Westmed Family Healthcare provider helps to keep you healthy by uncovering problems like high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol and providing tools and treatment to help you feel better and live longer.

For a health checkup, visit us at Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado. Call to schedule a visit with one of our providers or book your appointment using our online tool.

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