Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure
In some cases, stress may cause blood pressure to increase.
Stress can trigger the release of adrenaline, a hormone that helps the body respond to a perceived threat. This is known as the fight-or-flight response, and it has many physical effects on the body. These effects include temporarily causing your blood vessels to constrict and your heart rate to increase. This combination can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
However, this increase in blood pressure may not necessarily be chronic or clinical. Stress may cause blood pressure to rise. However, these rises may not be high or long lasting enough to meet diagnostic thresholds of hypertension. They may also not require clinical treatment.
The following frequently asked questions have been reviewed by Angelica Balingit, M.D.
How Anxiety Raises Blood Pressure
In addition to impacting you emotionally, anxiety will likely affect you physically. It can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase in response to a stressor.
When you experience a stressor for example, someone cutting you off in traffic cortisol, the stress hormone, gets released into your bloodstream. Stress can also cause your heart rate to increase, leading to a higher volume of blood circulating in your arteries. Both of these factors can result in heightened blood pressure.
If you experience many of the following symptoms and signs, it could mean youre experiencing anxiety, which may result in heightened blood pressure:
- excessive sweating
research suggests a link between hypertension and anxiety, its harder to tell whether your blood pressure levels could actually be adding to your anxiety.
Whats clearer is that its not uncommon for conditions linked to hypertension like heart problems and stroke to cause anxiety. In fact, about people experience anxiety after a stroke. Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 5 people who experienced cardiac arrest had feelings of worry that kept coming back after the fact.
You might worry about:
- having to go back to the hospital
- missing work or important events due to your health
- experiencing the financial impacts of having a health condition
Its possible to manage anxiety about hypertension alongside hypertension itself.
How To Reduce Anxiety And Hypertension
Hypertension can be very serious, so start by talking to your doctor. Take their recommendations seriously and do everything that they tell you. Your doctor is the only one that can diagnose hypertension, as well as the cause of your hypertension, and give you more information on what you can do to control it.
After that, you need to engage in those activities and try to realize that your hypertension isn’t going to cause any symptoms. As long as you follow the doctor’s advice and keep your heart healthy, your look term outlook is still very good. If your doctor tells you that you do not have hypertension, you need to also realize that hypertension doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process that occurs gradually and can be monitored with yearly doctor visits.
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When To Contact A Doctor For Anxiety
Experiencing occasional anxiety is a natural part of life. However, experiencing anxiety on a regular basis or experiencing other symptoms due to anxiety indicates that you could benefit from medical support. Anxiety can interfere with daily life, and treatment can often improve your quality of life.
Anyone who feels concerned about their anxiety should contact a medical professional.
Can Your Blood Pressure Go Up From Anxiety
Anxiety can increase your blood pressure. But its important to note that occasional spikes in your blood pressure dont mean you have high blood pressure. Elevated anxiety can cause temporary spikes in your blood pressure, which is not the same as having hypertension.
Long-term anxiety and stress can lead to chronic hypertension and increase your risk of developing heart disease. But if youre managing your thoughts with healthy coping mechanisms, your blood pressure should return to normal levels after a few hours.
It might be difficult for someone who lives with long-term anxiety to notice these short-term spikes in their blood pressure because they are so used to living with stress or worrying all the time.
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Anxiety Causes Low Blood Pressure
What you may not know is that some forms of anxiety can cause low blood pressure as well. During periods of anxiety attacks, a person may start to hyperventilate. Hyperventilation occurs when the body gets too much oxygen through either fast breathing or taking breaths that are too deep.
Hyperventilation is known to cause drops in blood pressure that can lead to feelings of lightheadedness and dizziness. So while high blood pressure is more common during anxiety, low blood pressure may occur as well.
When To Contact A Doctor For High Blood Pressure
If you take blood pressure readings at home and notice regular readings that are high, seek medical support.
- notice a particular spike in your blood pressure that remains after a few minutes
- have blurred vision or a headache due to high blood pressure
Someone should call 911 if you have fainted and you believe it is because of high blood pressure.
If you notice side effects from your blood pressure medication or do not believe that it is working properly, seek medical advice.
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Anxiety And Your Heart
High blood pressure is a silent killer. It often doesnt feel like its affecting your body, but chronic high blood pressure can be dangerous and even deadly. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and heart attack in the United States.
When youre stressed or anxious, your nervous system releases hormones called catecholamines that affect your blood pressure. The fight-or-flight response can increase your heart rate, which can increase your blood pressure. This is why managing your stress levels and anxiety is so important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Anxiety can also lead to other problems that can negatively affect your health, such as insomnia, which increases cortisol levels in the body and increases your risk of developing high blood pressure because cortisol affects our cardiovascular system by increasing the production of fatty acids that may lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.
Anxiety can also make you sweat more due to hormones being released when were feeling tense, which causes dehydration and increases our likelihood of developing high blood pressure. In this case, you may want to consider using an herbal supplement designed for anxiety relief such as L-theanine or 5-HTP to help with this problem.
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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Find A Safe Anxiety Medication For Hypertension
There are medications that can treat anxiety without negatively impacting your blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider if hydroxyzine, a beta blocker, SSRI, or benzodiazepine could help your mood, along with your hypertension. Some anti-anxiety medications, like diazepam, might even bring down your blood pressure. Diazepam is a controlled substance, requiring frequent doctor visits and may cause addiction. So, diazepam is only used as a last resort.
Case Study: Examining The Effects Of Exercise On Blood Pressure
To better understand the impact of exercise on blood pressure, we will look at a case study involving a 40-year-old male with pre-hypertension. This individual had been leading a sedentary lifestyle and was determined to make positive lifestyle changes to reduce his risk of developing hypertension. He decided to begin exercising regularly, and monitored his blood pressure before and after each workout.
The results of the case study showed that regular exercise had a positive effect on the individuals blood pressure levels. After just two weeks of exercising five days per week, his systolic blood pressure decreased from 135 mmHg to 120 mmHg, and his diastolic blood pressure decreased from 85 mmHg to 75 mmHg. These results indicate that regular exercise can have a significant impact on blood pressure levels.
The case study also showed that the individual experienced several other benefits from regular exercise. He reported feeling more energized, having improved sleep quality, and losing excess weight, all of which can contribute to better overall health. Additionally, he reported feeling less stressed, which can also play a role in reducing blood pressure levels.
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Temporary Spikes Are Not Dangerous
Those with chronic anxiety may be more prone to high blood pressure spikes, but the body does do a good job of adjusting and blood pressure often gets back to its normal rate for most of the day. You can’t necessarily feel high blood pressure, and while any stress on the body can cause anxiety, it’s more likely that your anxiety causes the spikes than the other way around.
It’s never a bad idea to speak with a doctor about your blood pressure concerns either. Only a doctor can tell you if there is something you should worry about. Also, remember that the more you worry about your blood pressure, the more anxiety you’ll experience, and the more likely you’ll suffer from these blood pressure spikes.
What Is White Coat Syndrome
One interesting phenomenon related to anxiety and hypertension is white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension. This occurs in 15% to 30% of patients who have a rise in their blood pressure due to nerves or anxiety when they are in a clinical setting, such as a dentists or doctors office . In fact, this type of anxiety can raise blood pressure by 10 points. Its a concern for patients because they may be prescribed unnecessary medication that can have detrimental side effects. What makes it even trickier is that white coat syndrome can sometimes be an early warning sign for actual hypertension.
Luckily, its unlikely that a doctor will prescribe medication or treatment based on one high blood pressure reading. If you or your doctor believe you may be experiencing white coat syndrome, its likely youll be asked to monitor your blood pressure readings at home or wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for a few days to get a more accurate depiction of your blood pressure. Blood pressure goals are under 135/85 mmHg.
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Can Severe Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure
Of course it can!
Edit: look for ‘white coat hypertension’
Anxiety can cause high blood pressure, and high blood pressure can cause anxiety. Same with a high heart rate, it can go both ways.
You should still probably monitor your blood pressure regularly to know for sure. You could buy an automated blood pressure monitor for cheap and take your blood pressure twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Absolutely, happens to me all the time.
It does raise BP a lot. I had to measure my BP at home after a visit to my doc a few years ago, because he measured 150/68 :D.
Measuring at home it would be around 110-120/70 usually in the morning.
My BP goes up to the 140’s/90’s when I’m having anxiety
Unfortunately yes. 2 weeks ago my anxiety no panic caused my blood pressure to spike to 210/140. It caused a stroke which caused a heart attack. After a hospital stay, Im recovering. But after all the tests, angiogram, cardiology apts, etc it was confirmed to be the root cause.
Blood Pressure And The Heart
Theres a reason why your blood pressure is taken every time you visit a doctors office or hospital, regardless of the complaint that brought you there. High blood pressure is rightly known as the silent killer. It often carries no symptoms or warning signs but can drastically increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The higher the number, the harder your heart is having to work to pump blood around your body and the more likely it is that damage is being done to the heart muscle. Since all parts of your body rely on circulation, though, its not just your heart that high blood pressure can impact. If blood doesnt flow easily, it can harm your arteries as well as vital organs such as the kidneys, eyes, and brain.
High blood pressure has been shown to damage the tiny blood vessels in the parts of your brain responsible for cognition and memory, greatly increasing your risk of developing Alzheimers disease or another dementia. Being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease can also take an emotional toll, affecting your outlook and making you more susceptible to anxiety and depression. And just as blood pressure may have an impact your mood, the reverse can also be true:
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How Is Hypertension Diagnosed
If you have a high blood pressure reading, your doctor may ask you to come back to check your blood pressure again over the course of a few weeks or months. However, you may experience white coat hypertension again.
In order to avoid this, your doctor may suggest you take blood pressure readings away from the doctors office. For that, you have two options.
First, you can purchase a home blood pressure monitor. Visit a medical supply company or pharmacy and ask for assistance finding the correct machine and a proper cuff. Ill-fitting cuffs can cause improper blood pressure readings. With this machine, you can take regular readings and record them for your doctor. Here are some tips for taking your blood pressure at home.
The second option is an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. This device is strapped to you and worn for 24 to 48 hours. It tracks your blood pressure every 20 to 30 minutes during the window of monitoring.
Both of these tests can help your doctor see how your blood pressure responds to the activities of your day. The ambulatory blood pressure monitor may be preferred because it can take readings during activities, like exercise and sleep.
One study found no difference between the two devices when it comes to accuracy.
If You Have Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is a much less common problem than hypertension, but it can still significantly impact blood flow to the brain and increase your risk of shock, stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
There is no specific reading that determines when blood pressure is too low. Rather, doctors rely on the presence of symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, and unsteadiness when standing to diagnose hypotension.
If you experience such symptoms, your doctor will look for underlying causes such as medication side effects, nutritional deficiencies, or a heart issue. Aside from a low-sodium diet, many of the same lifestyle changes used to treat high blood pressure can also be effective for managing low blood pressure.
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Diagnosis Of Anxiety And High Blood Pressure
Anxiety can be challenging to monitor. Excessive monitoring can have paradoxical negative consequences, according to Dr. Wheaton, as the process of noticing changes in your body’s functioning might cause anxiety. This could then cause more anxious arousal in an escalating cycle, and these escalatory cycles of arousal and anxiety can culminate in panic attacks as experienced by individuals with panic disorder.
Often the best thing you can do is look at the underlying causes of your stress and anxiety to best manage them. Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you feel uncomfortable at work?
- Do you get anxious around certain people?
- Do certain activities, like driving, making certain phone calls, or going to crowded events make you uncomfortable and stressed?
How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Doctors have a wide range of high blood pressure medicines available to treat high blood pressure. These high blood pressure treatments include diuretics — often called “water pills” — beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers , and other types of medication.
As effective as these drugs can be at controlling blood pressure, if you get to the point of needing them, you may have to take them for the rest of your life. That is one more good reason to focus on prevention.
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How Can I Prevent High Blood Pressure
You can prevent high blood pressure and lower your odds of getting heart disease by making a few changes in your lifestyle.
1. Consider your diet. A healthy diet can go a long way toward preventing high blood pressure. Trying following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan, also known as the DASH diet, which emphasizes plenty of fruits and vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health have shown that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure. And the results show up fast — often within two weeks. Stay away from salt and saturated fats and eliminate trans fats. Focus instead on foods that are high in fiber, calcium, and magnesium.
The National High Blood Pressure Education Program recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. The ideal is even lower — only 1,500. For the average person, who consumes about 4,200 milligrams a day, that requires a big change. But studies show that the lower your salt intake, the lower your blood pressure.
2. Get plenty of exercise. Regular aerobic workouts condition the heart and keep blood vessels working properly. It’s also wise to be as active as possible throughout your day, apart from your workout. Researchers at the University of Minnesota published results from a study of almost 4,000 people between the ages of 15 and 30 who were followed over time. The more active they were, the lower their risk of developing hypertension.