Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure. When your blood moves through your blood vessels with force, it creates a pressure on the walls of the vessels, causing your blood pressure to rise. Chronic hypertension — when your blood pressure reads high on a regular basis — can lead to complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and death.
Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer. The symptoms can be vague and difficult to recognize. Many people have no symptoms at all. That’s why it’s important to make an appointment with Arlington Family Practice to find out your blood pressure numbers.
Factors that can affect blood pressure
Blood pressure can often be lowered by making lifestyle changes. In some cases, medication may be needed as well. Sometimes an underlying medical condition, such as kidney disease, may be the cause. At other times, there may be no direct cause. Your age may also play a role, as hypertension is more common in adults over age 60. Furthermore, some ethnic groups are more prone to developing high blood pressure than others. The more manageable factors that can increase blood pressure are:
- Alcohol and tobacco usage
- A diet high in processed foods, saturated fats, and sodium
- A diet low in potassium
- Lack of exercise
The connection between blood pressure and stress
When you’re in a stressful situation, your fight-or-flight instinct kicks in. A surge of hormones raises your blood pressure, and your heart begins to beat faster. Once you get a handle on the stress, your blood pressure decreases and your heart rate slows down to a normal range.
However, if you’re in a stressful situation for days on end, or if you fail to manage even the mildest stressors in your life, your blood vessels will stay under high pressure. If not dealt with, the following stressors can give you chronic high blood pressure:
- Anxiety and worry
- Situational depression, such as grief over the loss of a loved one, divorce, or separation
Not only can these stressors cause an elevation in your blood pressure, but they can also disrupt your overall health. Insomnia and engaging in unhealthy ways to cope, such as overeating and excessive alcohol consumption, are just a few of the problems that can arise due to unmanaged stress.
Steps you can take to manage stress
Unfortunately, stress is always going to be present at times in today’s world. The only thing you can change is your reaction to it. Here are some things you can try to help keep stress under control:
- Recognize your triggers by write down when you feel stressed
- Simplify your schedule and learn to say “no”
- Take time to get in a quiet place and relax
- Learn techniques for the moment, such as counting to 10
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
- Foster friendships by joining a book club or taking a class
- Practice a hobby
- Resist the urge to complain about things. Instead, keep a gratitude journal
- Schedule “me” time
- Take steps to get rid of insomnia
The first step to managing your hypertension is to know and understand your numbers and what they mean for you. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Arlington Family Practice today.