Stress and High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure and stress are linked in many people's minds; however, despite popular myths, high blood pressure is not "nervous tension." Research has shown that short-term stressful situations can cause blood pressure to go up for a while, but it is not a cause of hypertension. Long-term stress may have an impact on blood pressure, but the degree is unknown.

Stress and High Blood Pressure: An Introduction

If a person is diagnosed with high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), it doesn't mean that he or she is "too stressed," "too nervous," overanxious, or obsessive. This is a popular myth. High blood pressure is not nervous tension or being overstressed. In fact, many people who are perfectly calm have high blood pressure.
 

How Does Stress Affect Blood Pressure?

Hypertension research scientists are not sure at this point what the effects of long-term stress on blood pressure are. They think that long-term stress can contribute to high blood pressure, but they are not sure how much. In the case of short-term stressful situations, stress can make blood pressure go up for a while. But once the stress is relieved, the readings return to normal.
 

Recommendations for Managing Stress

Stress management techniques do not seem to prevent high blood pressure; however, such techniques may have other benefits, such as:
 
  • Making you feel better
  • Helping you to control overeating
  • Reducing the need for alcohol and cigarettes.
     
If stress is a major factor in your life, something as simple as spending a small amount of time relaxing every day, even at work, may help you manage stress better. Other things, like yoga, meditation, or getting a massage, can also be helpful. Making time to relax and do the things you enjoy may help you achieve a lower blood pressure.
 
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