Is There A Connection Between Anxiety And Blood Pressure
Yes, anxiety does have an effect on your blood pressure. Anxiety is part of the autonomic nervous system which controls the automatic functions of the body. These functions include tasks that you do not consciously think about, such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and temperature control. As our bodies react to stressful situations , our blood pressure increases and sometimes even decreases.
Continue reading to learn more about anxiety and blood pressure, including the causes of increased blood pressure and treatment options for both anxiety and high blood pressure.
Keep A Close Eye On Your Blood Sugar Levels
Its always important to keep tabs on your stress and blood sugar. Thats why we recommend a fasting blood sugar test at every yearly physical.If your blood sugar starts to creep upwards, we can be proactive and start measures to help you.
This is particularly important if you have diabetes or prediabetes. In fact, if you have these conditions, we may suggest that you have blood sugar screenings more often. We can guide you through when you should check your blood sugar, and our dietitian can help you select healthy meals.
Treating Anxiety: Medication And Therapy
There are several approved treatments for anxiety that you should consider, and in many cases it will be recommended that you employ more than one for the most effective anxiety management.
Lets start with prescription medications, which are generally considered the go-to solution these days. Typically, the primary medication for treating anxiety disorders are actually antidepressants.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most often prescribed, but other medications like SNRIs will sometimes be employed if SSRIs are ineffective.
Theres also therapy, which is frequently recommended as a parallel treatment with medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps anxiety disorder sufferers to recognize their disordered thought patterns, which may otherwise let anxiety control your life.
CBT can create coping strategies to mitigate future anxiety or panic attacks. For more, check out our guide, What Is Psychotherapy & How Does It Work?.
Healthcare providers may also ask you to address diet, regular exercise and even substance abuse or alcohol intake issues, which may be making your anxiety worse addressing those issues could alleviate some anxiety symptoms, including blood pressure issues.
The link between anxiety and cardiovascular diseases may not be perfect, but its more than enough to tell us that anxiety isnt good for your health, long or short term.
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What Happens To Your Heart Rate During A Panic Attack
In many cases, a panic attack triggers a fast heart rate, also known as tachycardia. The heart rate may speed up to 200 beats per minute or even faster.
A fast heart rate can make you feel lightheaded and short of breath. Or you might feel fluttering or pounding in the chest. Usually, tachycardia that happens in response to emotional stress and only lasts a few minutes is not harmful. But if it happens regularly, or you have possible symptoms of a heart attack, seek medical care.
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Panic Disorder In Children
Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.
Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.
If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.
After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.
They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.
Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your childs panic attacks.
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Lowering Systolic Blood Pressure More May Cut Health Risks
One major study found that lowering systolic blood pressure to well below the commonly recommended level also greatly lowered the number of cardiovascular events and deaths among people at least 50 years old with high blood pressure.
When study participants achieved a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mmHg compared to the higher target of 140 mmHg recommended for most people, and 150 for people over 60 issues such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure were reduced by almost one-third, and the risk of death by almost one-fourth.
âThatâs important information, because more lives may be saved and more deaths may be prevented if we maintain lower blood pressure in certain patients,â says Lynne Braun, NP, PhD, a nurse practitioner at the Rush Heart Center for Women.
Braun cautions, however, that your personal blood pressure target depends on a variety of things, including your current blood pressure, lifestyle, risk factors, other medications you are taking and your age. âEvery person has to be evaluated as an individual,â she says. âRealistically, we canât get everybody down to 120, and trying to do so may create unintended problems.â
It can be dangerous, for instance, to keep an older person on medications that have unsafe side effects, such as diuretics , which can cause dehydration and dizziness in older adults.
And there can be other issues involved with taking multiple medications, such as cost and compliance.
How Do You Treat Anxiety
There are many ways of dealing with panic attacks and anxiety. Some of them involve drugs that may treat the symptoms of the anxiety but do not really anything to get to the root of the problem. This is again very prominent in our modern society: treating symptoms with expensive medication without caring about the root cause.
I mentioned before that symptoms like feeling overheated or cold, rapid heartbeat , excessive perspiration, chest pain, rapid breathing, numbness in the hands, trembling, weakness, dizziness etc. are able to cause high blood pressure. One might assume then that treating these symptoms is exactly what needs to be done.
This is where drugs come in handy as they do exactly that. They get rid of the symptoms and let you think youre cured. However, theyre denying the underlying cause for those symptoms anxiety itself.
Unfortunately, there is no drug out there that is able to treat the root cause of anxiety, but there are still some very efficient ways of fighting the true enemy here. I mentioned the PanicMiracle program that uses a holistic approach to treating anxiety. That is something worth considering if youre looking to get rid of your anxiety completely.
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Watch For Subtle Signs Of A Heart Attack
A heart attack might seem like it came out of nowhere. But in many cases, chest pain due to heart disease, known as angina, appears in the days or weeks before a cardiac event.
You may feel a twinge or some pain in the shoulder or chest but think its something else, says Dr. Miller. The symptoms go away. Then later, the pain gets worse, or you feel a little off. Then the heart attack hits. These early signs can be hard to identify.
Can High Blood Sugar Cause Anxiety
Those who live with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing anxiety because it can be difficult to manage the physical symptoms and possible progression of this condition. Secondly, your worries over these issues may also cause nervousness or fretfulness which would then lead into more severe levels on worry such as panic attacks
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Blood Pressure Changes Can Cause Anxiety
It’s also possible for blood pressure to cause anxiety. Both low blood pressure and high blood pressure can cause changes in your heartbeat, dizziness and lightheadedness, and more. These symptoms can themselves create anxiety or trigger panic attacks, and that in turn may increase your anxiety. However, not everyone who suffers from high blood pressure experiences anxiety.
Is it Dangerous When Anxiety Affects Blood Pressure?
The greatest concern is whether or not your blood pressure changes are dangerous. The answer is a bit complicated. On the most basic level, affected blood pressure is not dangerous. Remember, random fluctuations happen all the time with no ill effects. Blood pressure is a symptom of an issue whether it’s anxiety or heart disease and not a cause of heart problems.
Your heart rate and your blood pressure also may get a break with anxiety. The body is remarkable and adjusts to chronic conditions. Some people that experience anxiety for hours on end actually find that their blood pressure adjusts to that anxiety, which ultimately means that it goes back to a base level. High blood pressure changes tend to be fairly short term, and are most common in the early stages of anxiety or during panic attacks.
What Is Optimal Blood Pressure
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The Effect Of Anxiety On The Heart
When someone is anxious, their body reacts in ways that can put an extra strain on their heart. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be especially damaging among individuals with existing cardiac disease.
Anxiety may have an association with the following heart disorders and cardiac risk factors:
- Rapid heart rate In serious cases, can interfere with normal heart function and increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Increased blood pressure If chronic, can lead to coronary disease, weakening of the heart muscle, and heart failure.
- May result in higher incidence of death after an acute heart attack.
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Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Theres no single cause of high blood pressure, but rather many contributing factors. Some are out of your control, such as age, race, gender, and family historyblood pressure tends to increase over the age of 70, affects more women than men over the age of 55, and is more common in African Americans than Caucasians, perhaps due to a genetic sensitivity to salt.
Many other risk factors for hypertension are within your control. Being overweight, eating a poor diet high in salt, smoking, drinking excessively, and not getting enough physical exercise can all impact your blood pressure.
There are also specific substances that can raise your blood pressure, such as:
- Caffeine, including coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks.
- Prescription medications, including some of those used to treat ADHD, birth control pills, corticosteroids, atypical antipsychotics, MAOIs and SNRIs used to treat depression, and some cancer drugs.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as aspirin and ibuprofen .
- Cough and cold medications containing decongestant or NSAIDs.
- Herbal supplements, such as ephedra and yohimbine.
- Recreational drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
- Licorice found in some candies and gum.
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What Are We Seeing In This Image
This is a chart that reveals autonomic testing results in a patient we saw in our office.
When hooked up and being monitored we can see that:
- When the person had a stressful memory, just one stressful memory, the sympathetic system went way up . This person with one stressful memory became super sympathetic dominant and then eventually when we got the person to laugh the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system became balanced again.
A heart rate variability test can give us a picture to show us how the person is doing as a relates to thoughts, memory, relationships. We can also test based on neck motions.
The motion of the neck and heart rate variability
In the above image, we can see that the second most stressful event for this person, besides the stressful memory, was a certain neck motion. In certain people, when they move their neck to a certain position, they can feel their overall body becoming more stressful and this is a real physiologic event that happens to them and the way that we document is with HRV testing.
The testing put patients in different stressor situations. This could include the stress of having to perform mathematical equations and the response to loud noise.
Complications Of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is treatable and you can make a full recovery. But it’s best to get medical help as soon as you can.
If you do not get medical help, panic disorder can escalate and become very difficult to cope with.
Having panic disorder may affect your ability to drive. The law requires you to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency about a medical condition that could impact your driving ability.
Visit GOV.UK for further information about driving with a disability or health condition.
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Can You Have Normal Blood Pressure And Clogged Arteries
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Anxiety Medications That Can Increase Blood Pressure
Some medications that can treat anxiety may raise blood pressure. These medications include serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors .
Some examples of SNRIs with Food and Drug Administration approval include:
What Are Anxiety Medications And How Do They Work
Anxiety is a normal and useful response to potentially stressful or dangerous situations. It increases our awareness of whats going on around us. For most people, anxiety is short-lived and normally goes away once the situation has passed. This is not the case for an estimated 40 million adults in the United States who have some type of anxiety disorder and experience ongoing and unwarranted psychological distress. That distress may also manifest itself in physical symptoms such as muscletension, headaches, or chest pain.
Anxiety medications include multiple types of drugs that are used to treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders. The three most commonly prescribed types of anxiety medication are
- anti-anxiety medications , and
Antidepressants and anxiolytic medications work primarily by affecting the balance of certain chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. Beta-blockers and other types of drugs are used to address the physical symptoms that may accompany an anxiety attack. First-generation antihistamines are also used to help with anxiety symptoms because they have a sedating effect.
Anxiety disorders are associated with certain chemical imbalances in the brain involving neurotransmitters such as
- norepinephrine, and
- gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA.
These chemicals are associated with an individuals sense of well-being or with the ability to relax.
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Symptoms of a panic attack may include:
Symptoms of panic disorder may include:
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Anxiety Causes High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is not a constant. It changes all throughout the day, going from high to low depending on what youre doing, what youve eaten, how youre feeling, and so on. At any moment you could go through some type of blood pressure fluctuation that causes a high reading, and that reading says nothing about your overall health or wellness.
What is high blood pressure?
Although there are some outside factors that play a role, generally doctors look at blood pressure using the following chart:
- Low Blood Pressure: < 90/60
- Normal Blood Pressure: 90/60 to 140/90
- High Blood Pressure: 140/90 and Up
The first number refers to the systolic pressure. That is the pressure on your arteries when your heart contracts . The diastolic is the pressure on your arteries when your heart is at rest. Systolic tends to jump up and down throughout the day, while diastolic should stay close to constant .
Although there are risks involved with low blood pressure, most doctors pay especially close attention to high blood pressure. High blood pressure readings indicate that something could be wrong with your cardiovascular system. Because of the risks associated with high blood pressure, it is important to see a doctor. But if other factors have been ruled out, it is possible that anxiety may be to blame.