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Can stress cause hypertension? (Query)

Read what Dr Santosh Dora has to say about stress and hypertension.

I am a 60-year-old male with an active lifestyle. However, from past 2 - 3 months I have been at home and am stressed. Does stress cause hypertension? How to avoid stress? Please help.

The query is answered by Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, Senior Cardiac Electro Physiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.

It is true that stressful situation can up your blood pressure temporarily. However, the relation between high blood pressure and stress is not very clear. This is because stress can be an individual risk factor for hypertension or heart disease. But on the other hand, stress can also have an impact on the other risk factors of hypertension and worsen the condition. For example, if you are stressed, your blood pressure goes up, you might eat in excess to beat stress (which can also lead to obesity), you do not feel like exercising and you might even get addicted to smoking or drinking. All these factors can further put you at risk of hypertension or worsen the condition. Here is a mega-guide for understanding stress and dealing with it.

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What happens when you are stressed?

When stressed, the body releases stress hormones, cortisol, which not only causes hormonal imbalance in the body but also temporarily elevates your blood pressure. However, if this is the cause with you for most of the time, it can further increase your risk of hypertension. High blood pressure over time can increase the heart rate, making the heart to beat faster and also put the heart at risk of heart disease. Not just this, it can also lead to narrowing of the blood vessels if you have high cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia).

How to avoid stress?

Stress is a part and parcel of everyday life. The best way to deal with it is to control it to prevent its health complications. One of the best ways to control stress is to indulge in a hobby as it not only diverts your mind from the everyday trials and tribulations but also relaxes you both mentally and physically. Another effective way to control stress is to do yoga and meditation. If you are a fitness freak, exercising might be a stress buster. Hence, try to do that one thing that can help you to calm and relax to fight stress whether it is reading, writing, dancing or swimming. Here are top 5 meditation apps to beat stress.

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