Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?High blood pressure can be a serious and dangerous medical condition. We’ve all heard the expression- someone is in a stressful situation and says, “this is raising my blood pressure.” It’s true that these bursts of anxiety can cause your blood pressure to spike at the moment. But can stress actually cause chronic high blood pressure? The answers are mixed, but there is no doubt that things like exercise and neuropathy treatment can help you prevent the condition.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is when the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high. This elevated force causes the heart and blood vessels to work harder and less efficiently than they would otherwise. Over time, this can damage the delicate tissues of your arteries, allowing LDL cholesterol to form plaque along tiny tears in the artery wall.

As this plaque and damage increases, the insides of your arteries become smaller, raising your blood pressure higher and starting a vicious cycle. This leads to damage in your arteries, heart, and entire body, which can cause conditions such as arrhythmia, heart attack, or stroke.

Stress and High Blood Pressure

In a stressful situation, your body experiences a surge of hormones that temporarily increase your blood pressure, as your heart starts to beat faster and your blood vessels narrow. As the stress of that scenario subsides, the spike wears off and your blood pressure should return to normal.

There is no proof that stress alone can cause long-term high blood pressure. However, some studies show a correlation because many people cope with stress through habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating unhealthy food, raising blood pressure and putting you at risk for heart attack and stroke. Chronic anxiety or depression can also impact your heart’s health.

However, there is no evidence that anxiety and depression directly cause high blood pressure. Instead, it’s likely that the same hormones that cause these feelings can also damage your arteries over time. Frequent spikes in your blood pressure can have similar impacts on the body as high blood pressure itself might.

Does Neuropathy Cause High Blood Pressure?

Neuropathy refers to damage in the nerves that causes a range of reactions in the body. Depending on which nerves are impacted, different functions may be impacted as the body’s communication systems break down. One form of this condition is autonomic neuropathy, in which the nerves that are damaged are the ones that control the body’s involuntary functions.

Autonomic neuropathy can cause problems with sweating, temperature control, digestion, bladder function, and even sexual response. Blood pressure can also be affected by this condition, as the nerves that control the heart and blood vessels are damaged.

It has also been found that in diabetics, high blood pressure can raise the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy.

In these cases, neuropathy treatment may be one method to help control high blood pressure.

Preventing High Blood Pressure

While stress is not tied to long-term problems with high blood pressure, there are a number of interconnected pieces of your health that link the two. By reducing your stress, you can positively impact your heart and encourage healthy behaviors, which can reduce the risk of high blood pressure-related issues.

Some ways to manage stress include:

  • Use breathing exercises, like deep and slow breaths, to slow the heart rate and oxygenate the body.
  • Physical activity is a natural way to reduce stress, even if it’s low impact, like walking or swimming.
  • Yoga and meditation can promote relaxation and strengthen your body and have been proven to lower your systolic blood pressure.
  • As much as possible, simplifying your schedule and making time for relaxing or enjoyable activities can lower your stress and raise your endorphins.
  • Sleep is critical to both your mental and physical state. A well-rested person is more likely to be relaxed during the day.

If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, it is important to seek help from a trusted provider. Not only will managing these issues improve your mental health, but it can also prevent negative impacts on your body, including high blood pressure.