Does Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, is a condition that currently affects millions of adults. Roughly 37 million people deal with uncontrolled hypertension, and it caused or contributed to nearly half a million deaths (494,873) in 2018 alone. Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, and it can be caused by many factors, including poor diet, alcohol abuse, obesity, and smoking. Stress is commonly linked with hypertension, but what is the link? 

If you’re having problems controlling your blood pressure and you live in the Little River, South Carolina area, help is available. Dr. Rogers Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care offer medical help for high blood pressure and many other conditions for you and your whole family.

What is high blood pressure?

Your heart pumps blood through your valves, delivering throughout your body via your arteries. The amount of pressure that your blood exerts against the wall of your arteries coming from your heart determines your blood pressure. 

If your heart is pumping more blood that your arteries can safely carry, it raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the stress on your heart and arteries, which can be dangerous by itself and also increase the risk of other heart conditions. It’s also possible to have high blood pressure for years and not know it. Uncontrolled, it can cause heart attacks and stroke.

What effect does stress have on the body?

Stress is something everyone occasionally experiences, and different levels of stress will affect us in various ways. Headaches, heartburn, depression, insomnia, low sex drive... stress can contribute to all of it.

It can also be dangerous for the heart. Stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict to give your muscles more oxygen. Doing that also raises your blood pressure significantly. In small doses, your body can manage dealing with stress, but chronic stress can overwork your heart and put you at risk for many worse conditions. Other stress-related issues, like anxiety and depression, can produce stress hormones that damage your arteries over time and make you more prone to other heart-related conditions.

How do you treat it?

Since someone dealing with stress-related high blood pressure may also have other causes like dietary issues, obesity, and alcohol abuse, any treatment would be catered to the individual. Eating healthier, exercising more, and reducing alcohol can help with your overall health as well reducing problems with blood pressure, but there are also medications available

Thiazide diuretics (also called water pills), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers help to relax blood vessels and slow your heart beat. Alpha blockers, alpha beta blockers, and beta blockers can also help to open your blood vessels and slow your heartbeat.

So, stress can lead to blood pressure, but there are options available for treatment. If you're stressing out and think you have blood pressure problems, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care today to get help.

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