Does Anxiety Cause High blood Pressure?

When it comes to anxiety and its affect on your health there is more assumption and myth than you could imagine. Some of these myths are based in fact, but of course they’re not entirely accurate. And, although there is a connection between anxiety and blood pressure, that connection has been overblown somewhat.

See, anxiety can increase your blood pressure but it doesn’t do so over long periods of time. In other words, when you feel stressed and anxious your blood pressure does go up as your bloodstream is injected with stress hormones which make your heart work harder at rest.

However, despite the fact that you may have a spike in blood pressure during a panic attack or stressful situation – this doesn’t mean that you’ll have chronically elevated blood pressure because of anxiety alone.

An anxiety attack, or any other stressful event, only has a limited ability to increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your bodies systems go back to their normal state relatively quickly after the stress has gone away.

If you have chronic high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, it’s likely due to other causes. Things like inactivity, poor diet, family history and even your race can be contributing factors.

But always keep in mind that anxiety can spike your blood pressure in the short-term. For example, in the past when I’d go to my doctor I used to get nervous. My assumption of course was that every time I went there the staff was going to give me some kind of dire diagnosis. For this reason when the nurse took my blood pressure it would sky-rocket to 150/90.

The nurse would wait about five minutes and take the reading again and when she did my blood pressure would come back down to around 125/80 – 120/80 is considered optimal.

So does anxiety increase blood pressure? Yes it does, but on a temporary basis. Does it cause long-term elevation in blood pressure? No it doesn’t.

If you have issues with high blood pressure be sure to speak with your doctor as this condition can lead to serious health problems. This is just another reason why we all need to learn how to relax more and give our bodies a break from the chronic stress we often experience.

To read more about this issue read this related article by Dr. Craig Weber.

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Comments

  1. AmyN says

    I’m 40, female and not obese, so I’m kind of glad that there is an explanation for my BP spikes. Anyone else experience elevated blood pressure during an anxiety attack? I’m not sure long how my anxiety plan to stay around but I can’t afford to have my BP to be continually elevated because of these stress hormones shooting up through my blood stream.

  2. Ben says

    Nice to know not alone. Anxiety has my Bp to get high and heart rate up. Seems overwhelming at times.

  3. Andrea says

    I am the same way. I always get anxious when going to the dr and my blood pressure goes up because of it. Then they wait to take it again and it is fine. I hate my anxiety but I have to learn how to deal with it.

  4. Chris says

    Yep, same here guys I went to the dentist and before getting my teeth cleaned they took my bp (wish they never would have done so) and they did not know I had been rushing to get there and already nervous about being in the dentist office. So long story short, it was high of course, something like 157 over 90 something and this is completely totally abnormal for me since my bp is usually more like 125/70 or something close to that. So yes, anxiety certainly can make your bp temporarily skyrocket, it can go up over 30 points temporarily. So two days of bad anxiety later I am there at walmart at 2 am debating whether to take my bp on their machine or not and of course as soon as I sit down and put my arm in the cuff my heart starts POUNDING. Well guess what 150 over 107! I got dizzy and had to really chill out and breathe. I bought a digital bp machine and went home and took it an hour later and it was 124/78 after I relaxed and sat for awhile. So the answer is definitely 100% YES anxiety can cause a temporary elevation in your heart rate and bp due to adrenaline being released and it constricting your vessels as your heart pumps harder in the fight or flight response. All normal stuff, just remember it’s all in your head and you can get through the anxiety just take it easy and smile. :)

  5. D says

    @ Chris- Yes your mind can really make your system go haywire. I deal with anxiety it seems on a weekly basis now. In fact, more and more, every Sunday night I seem to deal with it going back to work. The fact is, It IS ALL MENTAL, and the bottom line is you have to control your thoughts into knowing you are safe and nothing is wrong. If you let your thoughts wander, it will get worse. I have a couple techniques. I record myself when I’m having a bad attack. I know that when the attack is happening I have the mind to stop, make a recording and tell myself that its going to be ok. I can listen back to this the next time and its reassuring to know that I got thru the last episode and made it thru it and things will be fine. The 2nd technique is picking out a safe place and knowing that you’re in a comfortable environment. A place that you like being in. My basement is that place. I’m relaxed and calm down there. So, relax and don’t let anxiety beat you. Nothing is out of your control. Deep breaths, positive thoughts!

  6. CK says

    You guys are great! Im 25 and just now started having anxiety attacks that spike my BP to as high as 160/110. I sit for 15min, gather my thoughts and can get it down to 125/80. I’m glad to know that this is common. Thanks!

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