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It's a popular misconception that stress causes hypertension -- the two are not necessarily linked. Many perfectly calm people without stress issues have high blood pressure. While research has shown that short-term stress can cause blood pressure to go up for a while, the impact of long-term stress is still being investigated.

Stress and Hypertension: An Introduction

If a person is diagnosed with hypertension, it doesn't mean that he or she is "too stressed," "too nervous," overanxious, or obsessive. This is a popular myth. Hypertension is not nervous tension or being overstressed. In fact, a lot of people who are perfectly calm have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.

Is There a Relationship Between Hypertension and Stress?

Hypertension research scientists are unsure at this point about the possible effects of long-term stress on high blood pressure. They believe that long-term stress can contribute to hypertension, but they are not sure how much of an impact it may actually have. In the case of short-term stressful situations, they know that stress can make blood pressure go up for a while. But once the stress is relieved, the readings return to "normal."

Recommendations for Stress Reduction

While stress management techniques do not seem to prevent hypertension, such techniques may have other benefits, such as:
  • Making you feel better
  • Reducing the need for alcohol or cigarettes
  • Helping you to control overeating.
If stress is a major factor in your life, something as simple as spending a small amount of time relaxing every day, even at work, may help you manage stress better. Other activities that may help relieve stress include:
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Getting a massage.
Finding the time to relax and do the things you enjoy may help you cope with stress and hypertension.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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