When To Seek Professional Treatment
You should see your doctor regularly for health screenings as part of a good preventive care program. If you are doing this, your healthcare provider can see trends developing with your blood pressure and other health factors and give you advice on how to head off serious problems.
If you don’t regularly see a doctor and have a onetime high blood pressure reading, you should schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider for follow-upespecially if you are experiencing symptoms like chest pain or dizziness.
How Does Slow Breathing Reduce Stress And Blood Pressure
If this sounds suspiciously simple, well it just is. And its not new news either. Slow breathing to reduce stress and blood pressure is an ancient technique that all kinds of healers, yogis, meditators have advocated for centuries. And now modern doctors are getting in on it too.
Cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson formalised the medical concept of the relaxation response in the 1970s i.e., inducing a state of deep physical relaxation. Building on the insights and benefits of traditional meditation techniques, he developed several methods of invoking deep relaxation as a means of countering stress and anxiety. These include mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and simply focusing on your breathing.
Medical research has been continuing apace since then. And there are now countless studies demonstrating the many physical and mental benefits of regularly accessing this state of deep relaxation. Lowering stress and lowering blood pressure are among the most immediate benefits.
NOTE: Even if youre not stressed, slow breathing still lowers your blood pressure Click here for details: How slow breathing lowers blood pressure
Advantages of slow breathing to reduce stress and blood pressure
As Ive mentioned, there are quite a few different things you can do to stop your stress rising and start to relax instead. However, slow breathing is the simplest, the most accessible , and the most direct.
As the American Institute for Stress states,
Effect Of Pure Anxiety And Pure Depression On Mean Blood Pressure
In analyses using symptoms of anxiety and depression as continuous scores separately at year 11, we found that both anxiety and depression predicted lower blood pressure at year 22. In analyses where anxiety and depression were further adjusted for each other, the remaining effects of anxiety and of depression on blood pressure were attenuated or became non-significant . Further adjustment for other health factors, antihypertensive medication and heart rate slightly attenuated the associations, similarly as shown in Table . Supplementary analyses using anxiety/depression cut-offs confirmed the direction and increased the strength of the associations described above. However, several of the findings became non-significant .
Table 3 Association of anxiety and depression1 at 11-year follow-up with change in blood pressure from 11-year to 22-year follow-up
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The Pandemics Effect On Blood Pressure
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress levels and fear for people across the globe. The devastating fatality rate of the virus, the implications of country-wide lockdowns, and high rates of unemployment are just a few common worries. All of those big emotions affect your blood pressureand poor coping mechanisms can make things even worse. On top of that, routine medical care is often delayed or even canceled as hospital systems become overwhelmed caring for people sick with the novel coronavirus.
Those factors put together are a recipe for flare-ups in those with existing hypertension and even new high blood pressure diagnoses for people previously unaffected. Its a worrying trend because hypertension is on the list of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk factors for complications from COVID-19. Here are a few ways the pandemicand its could impact your blood pressure:
Getting A Handle On The Stress Response
Luckily, you can manage that stress response. Common prescriptions include exercise, laughter, and a good nights sleep. We can also interrupt the acute response to stress by reconditioning our reactions to its triggers.
Simply taking a deep breath is one way to start. A focus on breathing lies at the core of various relaxation techniques. Yogis have incorporated slow breathing as part of meditation practices for centuries, and in the 1970s, the medical world formalized this connection when Dr. Herbert Benson first described the relaxation response.
Many of us recognize the value of taking a deep breath in everyday situations. Doctors often ask patients to breathe deeply before getting their blood pressure taken, for example, and mindful people may take a deep breath before responding to an insult. But it is also helpful to incorporate deep breathing in a daily routine, especially for type A or stress-prone personalities, with an added benefit on blood pressure.
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Stressful Situations Can Make Your Blood Pressure Rise Temporarily
Theres no evidence that stress causes long-term high blood pressure, but feeling stressed over a long time can take its toll on your health, affecting your mood and your body too. If its not under control, stress can lead to serious illness including heart disease, so its important to find ways to manage it.
How Can You Get Your Blood Pressure Under Control
If stress and anxiety are whats causing your blood pressure fluctuations, its natural to think that anxiety medication is the best solution. While some research indicates that its useful in certain instances, its not considered a first line treatment. Instead, try these proven prescription and lifestyle changes to get things back under control.
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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.
How To Overcome White Coat Hypertension
Does going to the doctor just seriously freak you out? Like to the point where your palms are sweaty and you can feel your heart racing, even though you know youre in great hands and likely dont have anything to be worrying about?
While we hate to hear that because weyour physiciansseriously want you to be comfortable, we can assure you that youre not alone and that what youre feeling when you step into our offices is more common than you might think.
In fact, that sudden rise in blood pressure you experience when you go to the doctor is so common, it actually has a name: White Coat Hypertension or White Coat Syndrome. Its an anxiety-induced blood pressure spike while in a medical environment when high blood pressure is not otherwise an issue for the patient.
Weve gathered some tips you can try to keep calm and overcome your White Coat Hypertension, but first, allow us to explain what it is, what could be causing the syndrome, and why it might be a bigger deal than you light think.
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Learn More About Managing Your Hypertension
If you suspect that stress is causing your elevated blood pressure levels, seek help from a therapist to treat the root cause of your issue. Some studies indicate that mindfulness meditation may also help with stress management.
However, stress alone rarely causes hypertension. Our specialists at Bethel Family Medicine can help you identify the root cause of your elevated blood pressure and manage it through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.
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Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Some people buy their own blood pressure monitor to use at home. This means you can measure your blood pressure on an ongoing basis.
The blood pressure readings you do at home are as good as those done by your doctor.
If you decide to buy one, it’s important to get the correct cuff size. If the cuff is too big or too small, it can give an inaccurate reading.
If you take your own blood pressure and get an unusually high reading, take it a second time after at least five minutes. If it’s still high and you’re worried, contact your nurse or GP.
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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
Gaps In Preventive Care
When annual physicals, or optional surgeries are postponed to avoid exposure to the virus, its more likely that blood pressure that was once in check could start to spiral out of control. Dr. Ngo notes: Visit tracking showed a large drop in office visits during the peak of the pandemic and a corresponding bump in the percentage of patients with uncontrolled blood pressure. Along with the increase in stressful situations and uncertainties, blood pressure is spiking higher than usual during this period. Even self monitoring can be difficult for those who do not have home blood pressure monitors, as most pharmacies and retail stores have restricted access to these services during the pandemic.
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Other Elevated Blood Pressure Causes
Risk factors for developing blood pressure include the following:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking excess coffee and energy drinks
- Suffering from kidney disease
- Suffering from thyroid disorders
- Suffering from insulin resistance or diabetes
Primary hypertension is by far the most common type of hypertension. Although researchers arent certain about the cause of primary hypertension, they suspect that a combination of a poor diet, lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to the development of the condition.
Studies indicate that hunter-gatherers and horticulturists have lower rates of hypertension and heart disease despite living in high-stress environments. This could indicate that lifestyle factors such as the modern diet and exposure to environmental pollutants may be contributing to rising rates of hypertension around the world.
Best Diet Pill For People With High Blood Pressure
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Stress And High Blood Pressure Whats The Connection
If you have high blood pressure and if you find yourself frequently stressed then theres a good chance that your stress could be at least partially causing your high blood pressure.
Now, theres no absolute proof that stress causes sustained high blood pressure in the long-term, although it seems pretty likely.
However, there is proof that as you become stressed your blood pressure starts rising. Thankfully, theres also proof that doing something to lower your stress levels can in turn lower your blood pressure.
NOTE: If youre interested in slow breathing only for stress reduction and/or anxiety relief, rather than lowering blood pressure, click here:Slow breathing exercises for anxiety
How does stress increase blood pressure?
The fact is, our bodies and minds are highly responsive to all kinds of things. Any time you feel stressed, youre not only experiencing a change in your mental and emotional state but all kinds of things are going on physically too. Your heart rate will rise, and with it your blood pressure, and you might also find yourself sweating or getting flushed and anxious.
Stressed image by patriziasoliana on Flickr.com
Scientists call it the fight or flight response your bodys preparing itself to either fight the situation or flee from it. And while this is a very healthy response if youre actually in danger, its not so helpful if youre getting stressed out by non-life-threatening things on a day to day basis.
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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High Blood Pressure Medication
Its always ideal to control your blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone. But because diet and exercise take time and consistency to reap results, blood pressure medication may be necessary for adequate control while giving your diet and exercise time to take effect.
Its always important to take your medications prescribed by your doctor.
Some people don’t take their blood pressure medications regularly. Reasons for this include forgetting to take it, while other people dont like the way that it makes them feel.
Whatever your barriers may be, find a way to consistently take your prescribed medication. Setting alarms on your phone, pill boxes and phone apps can all be helpful reminders.
If youre not feeling quite right on your medicine – or if you’re experiencing other medication side effects, its important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
There are many different medications available to treat hypertension and you should work with your doctor to find one that is right for you.
Relax Your Way To Lower Blood Pressure
Relax your way to lower blood pressure
The easiest way to lower blood pressure is by popping a pill. It takes just a few seconds and you are finished. But pills cost money and often have side effects. Fully relaxing your body and your mind for a few minutes a day could lower your systolic blood pressure by 10 points or moreat no cost, and with no side effects.
Researchers with the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital compared a stress management technique called the relaxation response with education about lifestyle changes such as sodium reduction, weight loss, and exercise. They found:
- Blood pressure decreased more in the relaxation response group
- 32% of the volunteers in that group were able to eliminate one blood pressure medication and still keep their blood pressure under control, compared with 14% of the lifestyle group.
The relaxation response, developed by Harvards Dr. Herbert Benson, has been shown to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and muscle tension. Heres how to do it:
Blood pressure basics
Blood pressure is the force that a wave of blood propelled from the heart exerts on the arteries. It is measured at two points each measurement is recorded in millimeters of mercury .
Systolic pressure gauges the pressure in the arteries at systole , the instant when the heart contracts and pushes a wave of blood along the arterial tree . It is the top number of a blood pressure reading.
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Manage Your Stress To Manage Your Blood Pressure
We all get stressed from time to time its a natural part of life! However, continual stress can make our blood pressure sky-rocket and cause all sorts of havoc, so its important to know how to bring both your mood and your blood pressure down. In todays blog I share some easy and natural ways to lower your stress and help you to take control of your blood pressure.
Reduce Stress Through Meditation And Rest
Chronic stress can lead to chronic elevations in the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, says Dr. Desai. These hormones constrict the arteries and cause weight gain, which further increases blood pressure.
He recommends reducing stress by using breathing exercises, practicing meditation, completing physical exercise, practicing yoga, logging quality sleep, taking breaks throughout the day, spending time in nature, listening to music and eating a balanced diet.
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