Psychological stress now a leading cause of hypertension: Doctors

FARIDABAD / May 18, 2023: Psychological stress has emerged as the leading cause of hypertension in India, with cases of stress-induced high blood pressure doubling over the last 10 years, doctors of Sarvodaya Hospital, Sector-8, Faridabad, have said.

“Hypertension has become a very common problem in recent years due to day-to-day psychological stress, especially among corporate workers and entrepreneurs. Today, about 90% of all patients of high blood pressure are found to suffer from primary hypertension, for which no physical cause is found. More than any secondary cause like a disease or health condition, the incidence of hypertension is today being driven by psychological stress as the main cause,” said Dr. Sumit Aggarwal, Sarvodaya Hospital, Sector-8, Faridabad.

He added: “Hypertension is also much more common in men than women. Worse, many people never consult a doctor for their condition. Instead, they buy a blood pressure monitor from a shop and begin to take over-the-counter medications. This can be dangerous, as many patients have been found to be taking wrong or inappropriate medicines. Hypertension needs medical supervision, and one should not indulge in self-medication.”

Talking about the association between chronic stress and the development of hypertension, Dr. Sumit Aggarwal said: “Prolonged exposure to stress triggers physiological mechanisms that lead to increased blood pressure. Stress over-activates the sympathetic nervous system, which results in the release of stress hormones and the narrowing of blood vessels, leading to elevated blood pressure. Chronic stress promotes inflammation and oxidative stress, which damage the blood vessels and compromise their ability to relax and contract properly. Stress also disrupts the hormonal balance in the body, affecting the regulation of blood pressure. Individuals under stress often resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, excessive drinking or smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. These behaviors, in turn, can lead to weight gain, poor cardiovascular health, and increased blood pressure.”

Work-related stress, financial stress, emotional stress, etc. are all taking a toll on people’s minds. Given the strong correlation between stress and hypertension, adopting strategies to manage stress effectively can have a positive impact on blood pressure levels. “Stress-induced hypertension is reversible in early stages by stabilizing the mind and reducing the brain’s sympathetic overdrive. This can be done through stress-reduction techniques like Yoga, mind-relaxation exercises, meditation, deep breathing exercises, anti-anxiety medicines, and antidepressants,” said Dr. Sumit Aggarwal. “By effectively managing stress levels, individuals can reduce their risk of hypertension and lead a happier, healthier life.”

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