Does stress cause high blood pressure?

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Health Assured team

22 July 2019

Stress—of any sort—produces hormones. These hormones cause your heart rate to increase, and your blood vessels to narrow. This results in higher blood pressure.

There’s no proof that small amounts of stress alone can cause high blood pressure in the long run. In fact, small amounts of stress are positive, even encouraged.

But what about people in high-stress environments? Chronic stress and high blood pressure are linked, and the effects are certainly far from positive.


What causes high blood pressure?

It’s not just stress. Though that is a common cause of temporary high blood pressure at work and home, there are plenty of other factors:

  • Kidney disease—which can also actually be caused by high blood pressure. Kidney infections are also a culprit.
  • Diabetes—around 25% of people with type 1 diabetes and 80% of people with type 2 diabetes suffer high blood pressure.
  • Certain hormone issues—acromegaly, thyroid problems and Cushing’s syndrome, for instance.
  • Lupus—a long-term immune disorder that causes inflammation.
  • Scleroderma—a condition that can cause thickened skin, affecting organs and blood vessels.

Certain medications increase the risk of high blood pressure, too. Contraceptive pills, SSNRI antidepressants, ibuprofen and recreational stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines, for example. When any of these factors are combined with a high-stress, high-pressure work environment, it’s easy to see how chronic high blood pressure—and the problems it can bring—can arise.

A lot of people with high blood pressure from anxiety about their workloads don’t even know it. They feel absolutely fine (well, apart from the stress). But there are some high blood pressure symptoms you should definitely be aware of, especially if you’re constantly under a lot of stress yourself, or if your staff are struggling with workplace stress:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.

Any of these symptoms by themselves can indicate any number of problems. But it’s best to get yourself checked out. If employees are wondering ‘how do I know if I have high blood pressure’, encourage them to visit a GP and get a blood pressure check—they’re very quick, and high blood pressure is easily manageable.


What is considered ‘normal’ for a blood pressure reading?

Normal blood pressure is considered to be somewhere between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. These figures mean ‘millimetres of mercury’, and are measures of systolic and diastolic pressure—all you really need to know is that high blood pressure readings are figures of over 140/90mmHg.

High blood pressure treatments include beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and calcium-channel blockers—these might sound daunting, but they’re essentially just daily pills.

Of course, the best way to manage this problem is to make sure people don’t suffer quite so much stress. Educating employees on the benefits of calming down, de-stressing and looking out for their health is vital.

This is a lot easier to do with some help—and Health Assured provides that help, with the largest award-winning employee assistance programme in the UK and Ireland. Contact us today to talk with a wellbeing expert about decreasing stress and improving the blood pressure—and lives—of everyone around you.

Know Your Numbers! Week 2019

In September, Blood Pressure UK is running Know Your Numbers! Week, offering free blood pressure checks at hundreds of stations across the UK.

Launched in 2001, it’s a fantastic way to get your employees up to speed with the benefits of blood pressure awareness—and a way to make sure everyone gets tested.

Check out their website and find a testing station near your workplace, and encourage people to go.

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