Don’t stress your blood pressure
Epidemiologic research has shown that high blood pressure levels are more common among those living in cities than those living in the countryside, and in the USA, are more common among African-Americans and men. Furthermore, those who have moved from rural areas to the city are more likely to suffer from hypertension than those who have always lived in the city.
Many researchers have studied the link between stress and high blood pressure, and there is no proof that stress by itself could provoke a lasting case of hypertension. It is rather likely that certain behaviors connected to stress, such as an incorrect diet, alcohol abuse and insomnia may be the cause of hypertension. Researchers have also studied the connection between heart disease and mental health issues connected to stress, such as anxiety, depression and isolation from family and friends. They found that certain hormones produced in situations of stress can damage the arteries, leading to cardiac disease, and depression leads to self-destructive behaviors such as failing to take prescribed medication against hypertension or other cardiovascular disorders.
The increase in blood pressure due to stress can be very significant, but once the stress has vanished, blood pressure generally return to normal levels. However, even temporary leaps in blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels, heart and kidneys, if they happen frequently. Furthermore, if the reaction to stress is smoking, drinking or adopting an unhealthy diet, this raises the risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
There are a variety of solutions to manage stress and high blood pressure: trying to dilute your schedule, becoming aware of your breathing, engaging in physical activity, getting enough sleep and consuming a healthy and balanced diet. These behaviors can help us feel better and lower the levels of stress and blood pressure.
Scientific articles below:
- Cardiovascular and autonomic responses to physiological stressors before and after six hours of water immersion (J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Nov 1;115(9):1275-89) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4374468/
- The vasovagal response during confrontation with blood-injury-injection stimuli: The role of perceived control (J Anxiety Disord. 2015 Apr;31:43-8) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887618515000237
- Differing Pattern of Sympathoexcitation in Normal-Weight and Obesity-Related Hypertension (Hypertension. 2007 Nov;50(5):862-8) http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/50/5/862.long
- Sympathetic nervous system activation in essential hypertension, cardiac failure and psychosomatic heart disease. (J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2000;35(7 Suppl 4):S1-7.) Abstract http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11346214