Does it ever feel like stress is a mandatory part of your life? Modern culture seems to put extra emphasis on being tired and stressed. If you’re not stressed, you’re obviously not doing enough or giving a full 100%. It can feel like you’re competing with other people’s misery, trying to prove who has the most stressful life and circumstances.
While being stressed may seem like the norm, it definitely isn’t healthy. Periods of sustained stressed can put undue pressure on your body and cardiovascular system.
Stress alone cannot cause high blood pressure, aka hypertension, but it can certainly play a part in developing this condition. Your body is made so that it can handle stress in short bursts.
It is not, however, built to deal with continuous stress. Understanding the link between stress and high blood pressure can help you manage your health and avoid potential consequences, like heart disease and stroke.
Do you think you may have high blood pressure? If so, it’s time to visit Alpha Internal Medicine here in Fayetteville, Georgia. We’re internal medicine experts that can help you manage this condition and get back to good health. Led by the experienced Dr. Betsy Horton, our team always puts your health and comfort first.
What is stress?
It may be hard to believe, but stress is actually a positive reaction. For survival reasons, the human body is designed to have certain reactions to stress that keep you alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger.
The body’s nervous system activates physiological changes when it senses a stressful situation. It’s part of the “fight or flight” reaction that helps us choose to flee from danger or stay and fight. The adrenaline that flows through your body during a stressful situation makes your heart pump faster and increases your blood pressure, which is the pressure on the walls of your veins.
While positive in short bursts, long periods of stress begin to put wear and tear on your cardiovascular system. Stress becomes detrimental when you are constantly in challenging scenarios without any time to relax between stressors.
On high blood pressure
Your heart is always hard at work, pumping blood through your body and supplying oxygen to your tissues and organs. Your veins and arteries are designed to be soft and flexible so that blood flow happens seamlessly.
When your blood pressure is high for long periods at a time, your veins start to harden from plaque buildup. Your veins slowly lose their flexibility, forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood through your body. This creates a cycle that makes your blood pressure worse and worse.
Consequences of high blood pressure include:
- Damage to your kidneys
- Increased risk of stroke
- More vulnerability to suffering a heart attack
- Increased risk of heart disease
High blood pressure does not have any symptoms. It’s often called the “silent killer” because many patients don’t know they have it until they suffer a serious medical event, like a stroke or heart attack.
The link between stress and hypertension
When taken alone, stress can’t cause you to have high blood pressure. Age, race, weight, and certain habits (like smoking or leading a sedentary lifestyle) all are factors that contribute to hypertension.
Stressful situations may play a part in some of these contributing factors. For instance, you may smoke to relieve stress or eat unhealthy foods when you’re feeling strained.
At Alpha Internal Medicine, we treat hypertension with a multi-pronged approach that may include specific lifestyle changes. After you are diagnosed, Dr. Horton or another expert team member will work with you to create a custom treatment plan. Typical treatments for high blood pressure include:
- Losing weight
- Avoiding alcohol
- Decreasing your sodium intake
- Getting more fiber
- Exercising more regularly
- Taking prescription medications
- Following stress reduction techniques
As far as medications go, Dr. Horton will determine which ones work best for your needs. She will examine your full medical history and any other prescription you may be taking before selecting a medication.
If you believe you may have high blood pressure or may be at risk for developing it, the time to act is now. At Alpha Internal Medicine, we can help you get this condition under control. Call or request an appointment online at our Fayetteville, Georgia, office today.