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Can Stress Cause Chronic High Blood Pressure?

Stress is a part of everyday life and in many ways is unavoidable. Taking steps to minimize the impact stress has on your daily life can not only help you feel and function better, it lowers the risk of developing chronic diseases. 

While stress isn’t directly linked with chronic elevations in blood pressure, there are several indirect ways stress negatively impacts blood pressure levels. What’s more, it’s shown that activities that relieve stress lower blood pressure. Read on to find out what you can do to tamper down stress and keep your blood pressure in check.

What’s the fuss about blood pressure?

High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, is a common but dangerous condition that contributes to heart disease, the leading cause of death among Americans. Having chronic high blood pressure means the pressure against your blood vessels is too high. This damages your blood vessels and contributes to hardening and narrowing of the arteries known as atherosclerosis, a hallmark of heart disease. 

Normal blood pressure varies

It’s normal for blood pressure to vary throughout the day and even temporarily spike under stressful situations. It’s when blood pressure remains high over time that you see trouble. Heart attack and stroke are the primary dangers of uncontrolled chronic high blood pressure. 

Hypertension - the silent killer

More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, according to the latest American Heart Association statistics, while another 30% of Americans have prehypertension. Many people who have hypertension are unaware that they have it. High blood pressure often has no symptoms initially and can silently damage your blood vessels for years. For many people, the first sign of heart disease is a heart attack. 

Regular checkups with your Carley Family Care provider helps to keep you healthy by zeroing in on problems that you may otherwise be unaware of, such as elevated blood pressure, or high cholesterol. 

What does stress have to do with high blood pressure?

It’s true that stress causes temporary spikes in your blood pressure, but these short-term elevations aren’t where researchers believe the real danger lies. The body is designed to handle brief stress that comes and goes. It does this by producing various chemicals that help the body deal with stress. 

Ongoing stress, however, is a different story. Constant release of chemicals related to stress promote inflammation, and it’s this chronic inflammation that research suggests contributes to chronic diseases, including hypertension. 

Stress revs up inflammation

Whether it’s a long, crowded commute, job pressure, or academic expectations, research shows that bad stress raises two key inflammatory proteins, interleukin 6 and TNF receptor 2. When these inflammatory chemicals remain elevated, they wreak havoc on the body and mind over time. 

Inflammation at the core of chronic diseases

Despite advances in medicine, we’re still learning the exact causes of conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. When we look at chronic conditions, inflammation is one factor they all have in common. 

While inflammation has a useful short-term role, it’s highly damaging to the body over the long-term. In this way, stress is indirectly linked to high blood pressure through its promotion of inflammation. In fact, studies show that people with the highest inflammation are seven times more likely to have a heart attack, or stroke. 

Managing stress helps control blood pressure

Because of its negative impact on overall health, managing stress should be a part of your care plan. Whether you have hypertension or are at risk, reducing stress can boost your overall well-being.

Yoga, meditation, and other relaxing activities are shown to lower blood pressure. Making relaxing activities part of your daily life helps balance out stress. Taking steps to reduce your workload, delegate chores at home, and reduce your academic load can keep stress levels at a minimum. 

Regular checkups are an excellent opportunity to assess your overall health. The physicians at Carley Family Care, Dr. Jeffrey Carley and Dr. Kattay Bouttamy, work with their team to offer the highest level of care for the entire family. Call our Kings Mountain, North Carolina office at 704-734-4550 to schedule an appointment. 

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