Stress and High Blood Pressure
Stress is a normal part of life. But too much stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems -- including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heart beats.
Reducing stress can help lower high blood pressure.
How Does Stress Contribute to Heart Disease?
Medical researchers aren't sure exactly how stress increases the risk of heart disease. Stress itself might be a risk factor, or it could be that high levels of stress make other risk factors (such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure) worse. For example, if you are under stress, your blood pressure goes up, you may overeat, you may exercise less, and you may be more likely to smoke.
If stress itself is a risk factor for heart disease, it could be because chronic stress exposes your body to unhealthy, persistently elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What Are the Warning Signs of Stress?
When you are exposed to long periods of stress, your body gives warning signs that something is wrong. These physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral signs of stress should not be ignored. They tell you that you need to slow down. If you continue to be stressed and you don't give your body a break, you are likely to develop health problems. You could also worsen an existing illness.
Below are some common warning signs of stress.
|Physical signs||Dizziness, general aches and pains, grinding teeth, clenched jaws, headaches, indigestion, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, racing heart, ringing in the ears, stooped posture, sweaty palms, tiredness, exhaustion, trembling, weight gain or loss, upset stomach|
|Mental signs||Constant worry, difficulty making decisions, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, lack of creativity, loss of sense of humor|
|Emotional signs||Anger, anxiety, crying, depression, feeling powerless, frequent mood swings, irritability, loneliness, negative thinking, nervousness, sadness|
|Behavioral signs||Bossiness, compulsive eating, critical attitude of others, explosive actions, frequent job changes, impulsive actions, increased use of alcohol or drugs, withdrawal from relationships or social situations|