When Stress can Kill you: Stress and High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is an extremely common ailment – some sources suggest that at least 1 in 3 Americans are afflicted with the disease. High blood pressure is often called the silent killer, because there are not many obvious symptoms. Patients may have high blood pressure for many years without being diagnosed, and unfortunately, if left untreated high blood pressure can lead to many serious consequences, including heart attack, kidney failure and stroke.

Stress and High Blood Pressure: A Deadly Combination

It is clear that temporary stress and high blood pressure are related – everyone has had the feeling of panic, their heart racing and their blood pounding. These are the sensations of extremely high blood pressure. This is actually an adaptive response, the link between stress and high blood pressure happens because the body is readying itself with the “fight or flight” response, by increasing blood flow to muscles and vital organs.

A more insidious link is that between chronic stress and high blood pressure. Constant levels of stress may not cause the heart pounding panic of the fight or flight response but they do have similar effects on blood pressure – even mild increases over the long term can have negative physical consequences. In fact, the link between stress and high blood pressure may be one reason for the cardiac difficulties often experience by so-called “Type A” personalities.

Treatments for High Blood Pressure: Stress Reduction Techniques

There are many treatments for high blood pressure, the most common of which is probably prescription medication. However, drugs only treat the symptoms of high blood pressure; they do not address the underlying cause of high blood pressure and they do not address the link between stress and high blood pressure that is present for many patients.

Effectively reducing stress may help improve blood pressure levels. There are many difference techniques to reduce stress and high blood pressure, visiting a homeopathic clinic or your family doctor can help decide what stress management techniques are best for you.

Some promising activities include exercise, meditation, yoga, visualization and hypnosis. Another technique that can be used to reduce stress and high blood pressure is when practicing biofeedback, people are trained to recognize signals from their own body when in a relaxed state and they use these signals to alter internal body states.

In any event, the link between stress and high blood pressure suggests that anything one can do to manage stress in their life will be beneficial. Of course, focusing on stress and high blood pressure does not replace the need for more traditional therapies and lifestyle changes like increased exercise, a healthy diet and reduce sodium intake.