Stress and Hypertension
May is blood pressure awareness month. One common complication of blood pressure is hypertension (high blood pressure) which is when your blood pressure is higher than normal (systolic >140 and/or diastolic >90) for a long period of time.
Why does high blood pressure matter?
According to the American Heart Association:
- 77% of Americans treated for a first stroke have blood pressure over 140/90.
- 69% of Americans who have a first heart attack have blood pressure over 140/90.
- 74% of Americans with congestive heart failure have blood pressure over 140/90.
Does chronic stress cause hypertension?
In 90% of the cases of hypertension, no single cause can be identified. We do know when the stress response system is called into action, too often we live in a state of hyper-alertness that causes wear and tear on our systems. We often cope with stress in ways that increase our risk for hypertension such as excessive drinking, smoking, overeating, rushing, working too much and sleeping too little.
Stress-reducing activities that can also lower your blood pressure include exercise, laughter, Yoga, Tai Chi, relaxation, positive self-talk, simplifying your schedule, developing supportive relationships, volunteering, practicing gratitude and adopting a pet. Read this weeks HANDOUT for more ideas on how to cope with stress.
For more information on blood pressure and stress, visit The American Heart Association at www.heart.org.
Author: Cherith Bevers, MA, Health Educator at Workforce Health