CAN STRESS CAUSE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

Stress has become an inevitable part of our daily life. We all experience anxiety, stress and emotional tension which affects our health significantly. 

Hypertension or high blood pressure is gaining prevalence day by day. As per WHO statistics, 1.13 billion people across the world suffer from this condition. When it comes to the aetiology of hypertension dietary and hereditary factors play a substantial role, but there are some other causes which we often tend to overlook. Unfortunately, stress is one of them.

Essential hypertension is a term which is used for the condition where the cause of hypertension is unknown. As per that data stated by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, around 50 million American adults have hypertension, and 95% among them belong to the category of essential hypertension. 

Stress can occur due to any reason. It can be social stress, occupational stress, marital stress, illness or injury, racial discrimination, financial stress or any other emotional disturbance. It has been observed that increased stress also promotes the level of anxiety. 

In another study, conducted on the middle-aged Chinese population in 2015, 5,976 participants were included who were between 40-60 years of age. At the end of the study, it was found 9.1% percent of the participants had hypertension due to stress at work or home. The ratio was higher among females as compared to males. 

Stress caused due to any reason results in the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These two hormones trigger increased heart rate, shortness of breath, constriction of blood vessels to increase the blood supply for extremities to the core of the body. Although this happens for a short duration and vanishes with the episode of stress, chronic stress has an adverse impact in the long run. 

This repeated constriction of blood vessels due to chronic stress may contribute to hypertension in later stages. Hence, stress being a lifestyle factor may not be a direct cause of hypertension, but it may increase the risk of developing the same. 

Hence, it is very important to make stress management a part of our daily regimen. Practising meditation, playing your favourite sport, exercise, listening to soothing music, etc. are some of the ways which can be implied to relieve stress. In addition, include foods in the diet like banana, chamomile tea, avocados, omega-3 fats, milk, yoghurt, nuts and oats. It is important to maintain a regular sleep cycle. Instead of getting aggressive, angry or defensive, we should try to learn and accept that there are some situations which we can not manage or control. Instead of staying positive or optimistic may help. 

REFERENCES

  • Managing Stress to Control High Blood Pressure. (2016). American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/managing-stress-to-control-high-blood-pressure
  • Kulkarni, S., O'Farrell, I., Erasi, M., & Kochar, M. S. (1998). Stress and hypertension. WMJ: official publication of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin97(11), 34–38.
  • Spruill T. M. (2010). Chronic psychosocial stress and hypertension. Current hypertension reports12(1), 10–16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11906-009-0084-8
  • Stress and Hypertension: Symptoms and Treatment.The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/hypertension
  • Mucci, N., Giorgi, G., De Pasquale Ceratti, S., Fiz-Pérez, J., Mucci, F., & Arcangeli, G. (2016). Anxiety, Stress-Related Factors, and Blood Pressure in Young Adults. Frontiers in psychology7, 1682. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01682
  • Hu, B., Liu, X., Yin, S., Fan, H., Feng, F., & Yuan, J. (2015). Effects of psychological stress on hypertension in middle-aged Chinese: a cross-sectional study. PloS one10(6), e0129163. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0129163

 

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