High Blood Pressure: Can anxiety lead to hypertension? Find out

Hypertension aka high blood pressure, unfortunately, is one of the common health issues and is also one of the leading causes of death across the world. For the unversed, hypertension is when the pressure of blood against the walls of the arteries is higher than normal.
High Blood Pressure: Can anxiety lead to hypertension? Find outHigh Blood Pressure: Can anxiety lead to hypertension? Find out
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Hypertension aka high blood pressure, unfortunately, is one of the common health issues and is also one of the leading causes of death across the world. For the unversed, hypertension is when the pressure of blood against the walls of the arteries is higher than normal. Genetics, poor lifestyle, smoking, drinking alcohol, lack of physical activity, being overweight, stress, too much salt in diet and old age are some of the major precursors of high BP. Today, we are talking about another lesser-known cause of hypertension and it is anxiety. Yes, you read it right! We all know that anxiety is common part and parcel of life, as we almost all experience every day due to some reason or the other. Dr. Christopher Celano, associate director of the Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, in an interview with Time magazine, talked in length on this topic. He said that mind and our thoughts are connected to our hearts. And when we are anxious, our sympathetic nervous system initiates a fight-or-flight response and the same raises your heart rate and blood pressure. However, he added that a little anxiety is fine and nothing we should be worried about as it can be motivating sometimes but one should not always be stressed and should bring a balance as in the long run, it can imperil the heart. 

So in short, if you are chronically anxious then you might face health issues including high BP. To back Dr. Celano's words, a 2015 research review found that those who have high levels of anxiety are more prone to the development of high BP than others. As elevated anxiety levels over long periods of time promote arterial disease. Some contradictory researches have concluded that anxiety is associated with a slightly lower risk of hypertension. Dr. James Brian Byrd, a hypertension specialist and assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School said that there is an unambiguous cause-and-effect relationship between anxiety and high blood pressure. He gave an example of how an impromptu public speech will shoot anyone's BP high, however, to date it is harder to say that frequent anxiety can contribute to the development of sustained high levels of BP. However, we cannot ignore that people who do worry more are prone to heart diseases in the long run.

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Dr. Celano said, "Try to distinguish whether or not the anxiety is so severe that it’s impacting [your] life or functioning,” he says. If you feel like you worry too much about a variety of things on most days, and this anxiety is messing with your sleep or mood or relationships, then that’s the type of anxiety that could lead to hypertension and heart trouble." He added how one can tackle the same and if you have chronic hypertension then meditation, medication and relaxation response training among others should be considered. Speaking of prevention and cure of the same, aside from medication, simple lifestyle changes such as cutting down on sodium, inclusion of physical activity among others can help to bring down elevated levels of blood pressure.

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