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How Stress Affects Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer. Although it’s a common condition, many people don’t know they have it. About 75 million people in the United States have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

High blood pressure has few symptoms, but if left untreated can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke — the first and third most common causes of death in the United States, respectively. There are many risk factors for high blood pressure, including family history, being overweight, smoking, and a poor diet. Stress can also contribute to high blood pressure.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps, and the force of that blood flowing through your arteries. High blood pressure is when the pressure in your arteries is too high or strong.  

Your blood pressure is represented by two numbers. The top number is the pressure when the heart beats and the bottom number is the pressure when the heart rests. High blood pressure starts at 130/80. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or below. 

The only way to know your blood pressure is to check it either at the doctor’s office or at home with a store-bought blood pressure monitor. Catching high blood pressure early and making lifestyle changes to help lower it can save your life. 

Blood pressure and stress

Everyone experiences stress once in a while. When you’re feeling stressed, your blood pressure rises. When the stressful situation passes, your blood pressure returns to normal. Chronic stress means your blood pressure is often elevated. It’s not clear if chronic stress itself can lead to high blood pressure, but the way you handle stress can affect your blood pressure. 

For example, when you’re stressed, you can manage it with healthy techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercising. Unfortunately, some people often manage their stress in unhealthy ways, such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking.

Chronic stress can lead to a whole host of unhealthy habits, including not exercising, not getting enough sleep, and not taking care of yourself. These unhealthy habits all contribute to high blood pressure on their own. 

Additionally, when you’re stressed, your body releases stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. During times of chronic stress, these hormones are released frequently and in large quantities. These hormones have been known to temporarily raise your blood pressure. 

Feeling stressed? Make your appointment today to have your blood pressure checked. Call the office or book an appointment online with Dr. Rimma Gelbert in Brooklyn, New York. 

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