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Is Stress Making Your Hypertension Worse?

Do you wonder if chronic stress could be the cause of your hypertension?

Your body produces stress hormones when you feel threatened. In response, your heart starts beating faster: your pulse rate increases, and your blood pressure rises. In the short term, this response is beneficial because it allows you to work harder and increases your chances of surviving a dangerous situation.

The problem arises when your body goes through stress too often or remains at an elevated stress level. You’re only meant to experience that burst of stress hormones for brief periods — until the danger passes — as a rapid heart rate can damage your heart, and high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your blood vessels. 

Although the connection between chronic stress and hypertension isn’t fully understood, a reduction in stress levels does have a positive impact on blood pressure. At Upper East Side Cardiology, Satjit Bhusri, MD, FACC’s mission is to keep our patients informed about what they can do to prevent complications of hypertension, so we’ve put together this short guide on stress and hypertension.

Work-related stress triggers hypertension

A study that looked at the effects of stress in both men and women working white-collar jobs found that participants who had higher stress levels also had higher blood pressure levels. The study also found that participants who were overweight and had poor social support were more likely to suffer from hypertension.

In other words, maintaining a healthy weight and having people around you who offer you support may help offset the negative effects of stress on blood pressure. 

Poor sleep and night shifts are a dangerous combination 

Night shift workers report higher stress levels and poorer sleep quality. They also have a higher rate of hypertension and greater risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers.

However, night shift workers aren’t the only ones who suffer from the impact of stress on sleep. Anyone can develop insomnia, and research shows that even one night of poor sleep can lead to temporary hypertension.

Cut down on stress to reduce your blood pressure

Stress management can help patients suffering from hypertension lower their blood pressure levels. Relaxation techniques such as visualization, meditation, tai chi, and yoga can help you cool off and build resilience to stress. Even simple deep breathing for 30 seconds is shown to reduce your blood pressure.

If you’re worried that your stress levels are contributing to your high blood pressure, contact Dr. Bhusri at Upper East Side Cardiology to schedule an appointment. We can help you manage your hypertension and improve your quality of life.

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