The Link Between Stress and Hypertension

Are you stressed out? You may think stress is all in your mind. But the way you manage stress can affect your body, too. Most critically, stress can make your blood pressure soar, making you a prime candidate for heart disease and stroke. Dr. Samantha Lindsay and the team at Family First Wellness can help you recognize and manage stress, which will help keep your mind and body sound for years.

Are you stressed out?

Normal stress isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of our natural fight-or-flight response, which helps us respond to dangerous and emergency situations. Stress is part of our evolutionary history from a time when death was more of an everyday threat. But it is still a helpful mechanism today. 

Fleeing a saber-tooth tiger, of course, is different from working on a deadline. Different levels of stress trigger different responses. But whatever causes you stress, your body can cope with it for a short time. Chronic stress, however, can damage your immune and cardiac systems. 

Are stress and hypertension linked?

Yes. When you visit the doctor, the first thing that happens is someone will take your blood pressure. You’ll roll up your sleeve so the monitor can fit around your wrist or arm.

As the cuff tightens, pressure is put on the veins and heart so that blood flow is compromised; your heart is pumping at its maximum output and heartbeat. When the pressure is released, the heart relaxes, and your resting heart rate is measured. 

You’ve officially got high blood pressure/hypertension when both your maximum and normal heartbeat/output are above a certain level. 

Stress alone cannot cause hypertension. Age, race, weight, smoking, or leading a sedentary lifestyle all contribute to hypertension. 

Here’s How Stress Affects You

Stress puts a strain on particular parts of your body. When you’re stressed, your blood pumps quickly and with force, stretching your veins as it flows. Your heart then beats quickly to keep everything moving. At the same time, adrenaline constricts your blood flow and surges blood to the muscles as if you’re in physical danger. 

This is a natural and healthy response that helps to prepare you to defend yourself if necessary or get away from danger quickly. But when this reaction happens for hours, days, months, and years, your veins and heart wear down under the constant stress. 

Help is available

When you schedule a visit with Dr. Lindsay, she’ll conduct a physical exam to identify if you have high blood pressure. This is the time to talk about stresses that could be contributing to your elevated blood pressure.

Dr. Lindsay may prescribe medication to lower blood pressure. She may also recommend stress-reducing activities like regular exercise, meditation, and a low-sodium diet.

Is your stress out of control? Call Dr. Lindsay at 813-920-8300, or use our online tool to book an appointment. 

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