What is the Connection Between Stress and Hypertension?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2018
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Stress and hypertension can be related if short-term stress causes a temporary spike in blood pressure. Despite common beliefs, long-term stress has not been shown to lead to high blood pressure. Hypertension is generally caused by dietary habits, certain medications, or medical conditions and not by being anxious or stressed out.

While stress and hypertension are connected in some situations, studies have not sufficiently shown any solid link between chronic “true” hypertension and anxiety or long-term stress. Blood pressure can go up temporarily if a person becomes suddenly nervous or upset, but as soon as the stressful situation has ended, blood pressure levels typically return to normal. Stress over the course of several weeks or months has not been shown to dramatically increase blood pressure.


Although no concrete links have been found between chronic stress and hypertension, studies are still being conducted to discover if there could be a link. High blood pressure is known to be caused by poor dietary habits, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, or taking certain medications. That said, it can be hard to tell how much of an impact stress could play on hypertension, since anxiety and stress are common among those who engage in many risky behaviors that most often lead to high blood pressure. For instance, someone may begin smoking more often due to stress and end up with high blood pressure. In this situation it may be hard to tell if the smoking or stress caused the hypertension since both were present simultaneously.

Whether or not stress and hypertension are related, both conditions are detrimental to health and should be taken seriously. Both can be successfully treated through prescription medications and other therapies. Those who have stress, hypertension, or both should see their doctors.

High blood pressure and stress are also linked because both conditions may put a person at high risk for additional health problems later in life, particularly heart disease. Prolonged stress is related to heart issues, fatigue, insomnia, and certain types of cancer. This could be because it weakens the immune system, thus making the body more prone to disease. Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to heart attack and stroke.

In cases where stress temporarily raises blood pressure, patients should be retested at a later time to ensure that levels have returned to normal. If not, it is likely real hypertension. Medication may be needed, along with appropriate dietary changes and exercise. It should be noted, though, that may people become stressed when visiting the doctor, so temporary surges in blood pressure are a common occurrence.



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