How Anxiety Affects Blood Pressure
- Anxiety has a complicated relationship to blood pressure.
- Typically, blood pressure changes from anxiety are not dangerous unless you have a pre-existing condition.
- We identify 4 different causes of blood pressure changes with anxiety.
- Those that frequently monitor blood pressure may also be giving themselves anxiety.
- Blood pressure varies throughout the day, even without anxiety, but an anxiety treatment plan offers a longer-term solution.
How Stress Affects Your Health
In addition to the emotional discomfort we feel when faced with a stressful situation, our bodies react by releasing stress hormones into the blood. These hormones prepare the body for the fight or flight response by making the heart beat faster and constricting blood vessels to get more blood to the core of the body instead of the extremities.
Constriction of blood vessels and increase in heart rate does raise blood pressure, but only temporarily when the stress reaction goes away, blood pressure returns to its pre-stress level. This is called situational stress, and its effects are generally short-lived and disappear when the stressful event is over.
Fight or flight is a valuable response when we are faced with an imminent threat that we can handle by confronting or fleeing. However, our modern world contains many stressful events that we cant handle with those options. Chronic stress causes our bodies to go into high gear on and off for days or weeks at a time. The links between chronic stress and blood pressure are not clear and are still being studied.
Diagnosing And Treating Anxiety
Its important to differentiate normal anxiety from the more severe type. Does the anxiety interfere with your family life or keep you from being productive in your professional life? Does it restrict you from engaging in the activities you like? If the answer is yes, then its the kind of anxiety that may require some degree of therapy or medical attention.
Depending on the duration, severity, and type of anxiety, treatment can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A common and effective method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves three main components:
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The Role Of Genes In Anxiety Disorder
Just like a major heart attack, a burn is a horrible thing, says McCann. About 33% of patients who have really severe burns develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Which makes us wonder about the 66% who do not get PTSD. We think genes are a huge part of it. Were currently researching whether this same genetic vulnerability holds true for cardiac disease.
Johns Hopkins Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center
The Johns Hopkins Womens Cardiovascular Health Center provides education, comprehensive treatment and diagnostic services to prevent and manage heart disease in women.
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 doctors or dentists office . 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.
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Hypertension And Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure
Anxiety is a mental state where a person starts feeling nervousness and unusual fear. Even anxiety may be good for people if controlled because it prevents you from dangerous activity. But when it is critical enough to be a disorder, it could affect a persons both mental and physical well-being. Anxiety affects more than 40M adults each year in the USA, according to researchers conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Even though anxiety is not a disorder attached to chronic high blood pressure, anxiety affects people with a wide range of symptoms. Being anxious may cause hormone imbalances and result in many physical signs as well as mental symptoms. With the confirmation of a vast area of symptoms, we know that anxiety may result in a spike in your blood pressure. Throughout this article, we will see how being anxious could affect human blood pressure.
The Cortisol Effect Within The Fight Or Flight Factor Can Cause Blood Pressure Spikes
The study of physiology expanded to understand whether the bodys reactions were in response to something. In the early 1900s, Walter Cannon coined the term fight or flight to promote the understanding that the body will produce the same adrenaline response in fight mode as in flight from a perceived threat. He only considered the one variable of adrenalin however and didnt recognize the physiological and other biochemical occurrences in place.
The term anxiety is often used interchangeably with stress and psychologists tended to stay away from using it, until mid-century. The term stress had some stigma from decades past where people whispered that someone had nervous symptoms.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and focus to provide a surge of energy to immediately react in a short-lived situation. For example, if a child was in the way of an oncoming vehicle, youd act quickly to grab the child because of the adrenaline boost. Your internal systems would return to normal state relatively quickly and you might be inclined to rest or nap to regain lost energy.
Cortisolis another hormone activated in stressful situations to provide immediate energy by triggering glucose production. It takes a few more minutes than adrenaline to respond but will produce the same powerful energy boost in survival mode. It tends to last longer in cases of recurring, or chronic, stress events such as long work hours or family dysfunctions.
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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 , angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers , 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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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.
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The Link Between Anxiety And High Blood Pressure
There is an undeniable link between bouts of anxiety and blood pressure spikes. Whenever we face moments of stress, it can cause anxious behaviors.
Simultaneously, stress triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. These hormones intact our fight-or-flight instincts that promote a rise in body temperature and increase in blood pressure.
While it seems like anxiety triggers high blood pressure, they’re really both just mental and physical reactions to stress.
Stress causes the mental anguish that promotes anxious behaviors and the physiological change in hormones that causes high blood pressure. If anything, anxiety and high blood pressure are symptoms of stress rather than of each other.
Blood Pressure Is Linked To Other Medical Issues
High blood pressure can be the first indication of a serious underlying condition. When a patient comes in with high blood pressure, doctors will check their urine and kidney function do an electrocardiogram to check the size of the heart and look for lung changes.
Stress on the blood vessels makes people with hypertension more prone to heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and aneurysms. Correspondingly, chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea and high cholesterol increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.
In some women, pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to preeclampsia. Postpartum blood pressure typically goes back to normal levels within six weeks. However, some women who have high blood pressure during more than one pregnancy may be more likely to develop high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as they age.
Some of these medical issues can also cause spikes in high blood pressure .
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The Importance Of Stress Management
In todays fast-paced world filled with increasing demands, stress management is a life skill and a lifesaver. Its also important to note that while the link between stress and high blood pressure is still being studied, stress is known to contribute to risk factors like a poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption.
Responding To Low Blood Pressure
Everyone’s blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. At any moment, it may be lower or higher than recommended based on what a person has eaten, how much water they have ingested, whether they are sitting or standing, or even how they cross their legs.
That low or high blood pressure alone is usually not a concern unless a person has a heart problem, as the body is expected to go through these different fluctuations.
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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:
Learning To Cope With Stress Can Help
Stress and hypertension have often been linked, but researchers are still looking into a direct relationship between the two. Still, the best advice to hypertensive patients: Try to relax.
When you are stressed, your body sends stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones create a temporary spike in blood pressure, causing your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. When the stressful situation is over, blood pressure goes back to its normal level.
Chronic stress, however, may cause your body to stay in this highly-charged state longer than natural.
While stress itself may or may not affect blood pressure, how you cope with stress does. For instance, overeating, smoking and drinking alcohol in response to stressful situations are direct causes of sustained high blood pressure. On the flip side, healthier coping mechanisms like exercising, practicing yoga and meditating can all help lower blood pressure.
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Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes
Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:
- Certain medications or combinations of medications
- Chronic kidney disease
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.
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How To Reduce Anxiety
First, lets be clear: If youre experiencing anxiety, we want to know about it. We care about much more than your physical health. We know that mental health is an important part of your overall well-being.
We care about our patients, and we are always in your corner, ready to help you.
Following are some useful tips for reducing anxiety:
- Any type of physical activity, even if its just a quick walk around the block during your lunch break.
- Reducing or eliminating your alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Getting enough sleep
If your anxiety continues for more than two weeks or if youre finding it difficult to complete everyday activities, you should consider talking to a counselor or psychologist who can provide help and direction. We can provide a referral if needed.
High Blood Pressure Facts
What every adult should know about high blood pressure, or hypertension
There’s a good reason why every doctor’s appointment starts with a blood pressure check. While one in three American adults has high blood pressure, about 20% of people are unaware that they have it because it is largely symptomless.
In fact, most people find out they have high blood pressure during a routine office visit.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is when that force is too high and begins harming the body. If left untreated, it willl eventually cause damage to the heart and blood vessels.
Your blood pressure is measured in two numbers: The top systolic blood pressure measures the force pushing against artery walls when the heart is contracting. The bottom diastolic blood pressure measures pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between beats.
Normal blood pressure levels are 120 mmHg/80 mmHg or lower. At risk levels are 120-139 mmHg/80-89 mmHg. Readings of 140 mmHg/90 mmHg or higher are defined as high blood pressure.
Here are six other things you should know about high blood pressure.
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Can Stress And Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure
As the emotional distress we feel when facing the stress and anxiety, our bodies respond by discharging stress hormones into the blood. These hormones set up the body for the fight or flight reaction by influencing the heartbeat to go faster and contracting veins to get more blood to the profundity of the body.
Reach Out And Find Services To Treat Your Anxiety Disorder
Navigating treatment can be a lonely, confusing, and emotional experience for someone with an anxiety disorderor their loved ones.
You may be asking yourself the following questions:
- Is this really a thing?
- Shouldnt I just get over myself?
- Isnt it a sign of weakness to ask for help?
But considering the millions who share this struggle, you are not alone. One in five adult Texans will experience a mental health concern at some point this year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety disorders are those most common in the country, encountered by around 40 million people.
At SUN Behavioral Houston, we will help you find the hope you need in anxiety disorder treatment options. You are not alone in this, were here 24/7. Call us today at .
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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 1 in 4 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.