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Anxiety And High Blood Pressure: What's The Connection?

Anxiety And High Blood Pressure: What's The Connection?

. Anxiety is the body’s normal reaction to stress. On the good side, feeling anxious can increase your alertness during crucial moments, such as a presentation, job interview, or unexpected crisis. But is it true that anxiety likewise increases your BP? What’s the connection between anxiety and high blood pressure? Find out here.

Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?

If you’re hypertensive, your first concern would be if anxiety and high blood pressure are directly proportional.

According to experts, anxiety releases stress hormones. These increase your heart rate and narrow your blood vessels, both of which may result in high BP.

In most cases, high blood pressure due to anxiety is temporary and resolves once the anxious feeling subsides¹. In fact, some experts believe that anxiety could be the culprit behind white coat hypertension. This is a phenomenon where the patient’s BP is higher in the doctor’s clinic than it is at home.

The Effects May Be Temporary, But They Can Still Be Dangerous

Although the effect of anxiety on blood pressure is temporary, doctors warn the public that it can still be dangerous, especially if you feel anxious frequently.

Reports say the temporary (and sometimes, drastic) spikes in BP can damage the kidneys, heart, and blood vessels, the same way long-term hypertension can¹.

Additionally, people who are almost always anxious are more likely to engage in activities that put their health to harm, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and overeating.

I’m Not Hypertensive. Can Anxiety Make Me Become One in the Future?

At this point, the relationship between anxiety and high blood pressure is becoming clearer: if you’re anxious, then your BP might increase. That’s generally okay if you only experience anxiety from time to time. Long-term anxiety, however, can negatively affect your heart and blood vessels.

Now, the question is whether or not anxiety can cause someone to become hypertensive in the future.

First, let’s look into what we’ve already covered. Frequent anxiety can make someone engage in unhealthy habits, like overeating, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Note that having these habits for a long time may increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases, which include hypertension.

anxiety and high blood pressure

Secondly, some reports indicate that anxiety and high blood pressure are closely related in the sense that the first increases the risk of developing the latter. However, the researchers agree that these findings may be compounded by other factors².

Another report also suggests that young adults are at a higher risk of incident hypertension after an anxiety diagnosis³. Incident hypertension is the first occurrence at any follow-up check-up of high blood pressure, particularly a systolic pressure of at least 140 mmHg and bottom number of 90 mmHg and above⁴.

Still, we have to mention that other studies do not see a link between anxiety and high blood pressure. Case in point: one study involving more than 17,000 participants and a 22-year follow-up said their findings do not support that emotional stress is a cause of hypertension. In fact, in their findings, anxiety, and depression were associated with hypotension⁵.

Anxiety And High Blood Pressure: The Bottom Line

Experiencing anxiety may cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. However, if you frequently experience anxiety, it may damage your heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. It may even push you to engage in unhealthy habits.

Does chronic anxiety make a person hypertensive? It’s still unclear. Some studies say it does; others say it doesn’t.

But here’s the fact: hypertension and long-term anxiety both need medical attention regardless of whether they occur alone or together. If you often have symptoms of anxiety, understand that your BP is higher than normal, or experience both, set an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Learn more about Hypertension here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Can anxiety cause high blood pressure?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/anxiety/faq-20058549, Accessed October 26, 2021

Association between anxiety and hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411016/, Accessed October 26, 2021

Anxiety and Hypertension: Is There a Link? A Literature Review of the Comorbidity Relationship Between Anxiety and Hypertension, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11906-019-0972-5, Accessed October 26, 2021

Physical Activity in Young Adults and Incident Hypertension Over 15 Years of Follow-Up: The CARDIA Study, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1829365/#:~:text=Incident%20hypertension%20was%20defined%20as,the%20person%20taking%20antihypertensive%20medication., Accessed October 26, 2021

Anxiety and depression lowers blood pressure: 22-year follow-up of the population based HUNT study, Norway, https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-11-601, Accessed October 26, 2021

Anxiety and depression are associated with unhealthy lifestyle in patients at risk of cardiovascular disease, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15694943/, Accessed October 26, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Oct 25
Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza