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Blog: Is Stress Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Is Stress Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

If you’ve heard the phrase “Know your numbers,” at your doctor’s office, he’s likely referring to being on top of things like your cholesterol, body mass index, and blood pressure, which all boil down to a combination of digits. These numerical readings influence your overall health and risk for disease. 

Think of it like this: Your numbers form the combination that serves as the “lock” to the “safe” of your own personal health.” Through lifestyle practices and other means, you have the power to change the combination for the better, if your numbers need a bit of work. 

The physicians Phoenix Heart, focus on ensuring that you aren’t only aware of what your numbers are, but that you can get them to as robust a place as possible. Our doctors partner with you to make your numbers protective, rather than representative of risk. 

What is a healthy blood pressure reading?

You might wonder what the numbers mean that make up your blood pressure reading. Diastolic is your reading’s higher number, and it indicates your blood’s impact on your veins in between your heart beats; your systolic pressure, the lower number, marks the pressure level as your heart beats. 

Over the last several years, the parameters that define healthy blood pressure changed. In 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiologists announced that a blood pressure reading of 120/80 was the “new normal,” as opposed to 140/90, which was previously considered normal.

Not surprisingly, many patients who thought they had blood pressures in the normal range were now considered to have elevated blood pressure. 

Why is blood pressure important?

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure happens when your blood is forced through your blood vessels and hits their walls at advanced speed. This “rushed blood” harms your arteries, which puts you at risk for numerous serious conditions: 

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Eye conditions
  • Dementia 

It’s critical to see your physician and have your blood pressure taken routinely because hypertension is sneaky: It has no obvious symptoms. 

Stress and its relationship to high blood pressure

Although there are a host of things that contribute to high blood pressure, such as a diet high in sodium and being diabetic, a significant factor over which you have a great amount of control is stress.

Stress is, unfortunately, inescapable for all of us. Whether it’s related to job, family, or something else, most of us spend a good amount of time “putting out fires” of one type or another during our daily lives. If we don’t deal with stress in healthy ways, our health suffers. 

Stress has been linked to everything from obesity to certain types of cancers, and it shows up in your life in many different ways:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Depression and anxiety

Unfortunately, some of these reactions to stress are known to raise your blood pressure as well. It’s a circular, “all roads lead to an unhealthy outcome” pattern from which you may need help to break free, and that’s where we come in.

Effective stress management techniques for lowering blood pressure and living a more satisfying life

If you have elevated blood pressure, we will work with you to create a treatment plan that addresses all the ways you can lower your stress. Healthy lifestyle habits are woven into a plan to lower your stress level, and include:

  • Appropriate physical exercise
  • A healthy and balanced diet
  • Mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga
  • Therapeutic breathing techniques
  • Effective communication 
  • Support from family and friends
  • Professional counseling if needed
  • Adequate rest

In addition to the things you can do to lower your stress, remember to limit alcohol use, and investigate a smoking cessation program if you need one. Successful stress reduction is really all about balance.

We also prescribe medications for lowering hypertension, if necessary. We listen first to the stresses you are living with day-to-day, whether temporary or long-term, and use this knowledge, along with familiarity with your health history, to treat you safely and effectively. 

The sooner you take control of your blood pressure by taking control of your stress, the better

It’s high time to acknowledge the impact that stress may be having on your blood pressure. When you work with us to achieve this, you will lower your risk of a number of conditions and support your health in plenty of other ways.

Call our Glendale, Arizona office to set up an appointment.

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