The Connection Between Stress And Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number is written above or before the diastolic number. For example, 120/80 (pronounced "120 over 80") means a systolic pressure of 120 and a diastolic pressure of 80.
If either of these numbers is too high, it means you have high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
There are often no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. That's why it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you have high blood pressure, there are things you can do to lower it.
The connection between stress and blood pressure is a two-way street. Stress can elevate blood pressure, and high blood pressure can cause stress. Managing stress is an important part of managing your blood pressure.
Stressful situations cause your body to release hormones that increase your heart rate and narrow your arteries. These physical changes can lead to temporary increases in blood pressure.
Chronic stress from work, caring for a family member, or financial concerns can keep your body in a state of heightened alert. This chronic stress can contribute to long-term increases in blood pressure.
In addition to managing stress, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your blood pressure. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking
Making these changes can help reduce your stress and lower your blood pressure.