Blood Pressure Raised Even with Mild Stress
It’s been clear for some time that psychological stress is linked to high blood pressure, or hypertension. Stress-hypertension link have been conducted in laboratories, using staged activities such as public speaking and mental arithmetic to “stress out” participants.
Now, in a “real-world” setting, a research team in Italy has confirmed that mild stress can increase blood pressure and impair the cardiovascular system’s ability to regulate itself.
These changes might contribute, in susceptible individuals, to the link between psychological stress and increased cardiovascular risk of hypertension.
It has been shown that people with heart disease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70% if they learn how to manage stress.
The scientists detected the changes using a technique called autonomic assessment, which measures alterations in the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls blood pressure, the heart’s rhythm and its ability to contract, and other important bodily functions.
Changes in autonomic function can be detected by computerized analysis of beat-by-beat cardiovascular variability on an electrocardiogram.
They confirmed that students were stressed on exam days, based on their responses to psychological questionnaires, their saliva levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and their saliva levels of cytokines, proteins the immune system releases when the body is stressed.
The students’ blood pressure and heart rate were markedly higher on the exam day than on the vacation day, the researchers determined. Other autonomic measures, such as heart rate variability, a measure of the heart’s ability to handle stress, were also elevated on exam day.
For example, he pointed out, beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors inhibit an important component of the autonomic nervous system, called the sympathetic nervous system.
Hypertension and risk of heart disease and stroke
Blood pressure is major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney failure, it acts as an accomplice in millions of additional deaths each year.
Of those taking blood pressure medications, control rates are abysmally low. A major problem is that mainstream medicine accepts blood pressure levels that are too high. This means that the majority of those diagnosed with hypertension spend most of their day with blood pressure levels dangerously elevated.
The medical establishment defines high blood pressure (hypertension) as over 139/89 mmHg. However, in 2006, researchers found that blood pressure levels ranging from 120 to 129 mmHg systolic and 80 to 84 mmHg diastolic were associated with an 81% higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to levels of less than 120/80 mmHg. Moreover, blood pressure levels of 130-138/85-89 mmHg were associated with a frightening 133% greater risk of cardiovascular disease compared to levels below 120/80. Worse yet, studies suggest that conventional physicians are unlikely to treat hypertension until levels exceed 160/90 mmHg, level that dramatically increases the risk of disease and death.
Controlling blood pressure means radically reducing disease risk. Studies have estimated that reducing blood pressure by 10/5 mmHg, to 115/75, can reduce the risk of stroke death by 40% and the risk of death due to heart disease or other vascular causes by 30%. In individuals 40 to 70 years old, each 20/10mmHg increment over 115/75 doubles the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or kidney failure. Based on this and other data, that for many individuals, a target blood pressure of 115/75 mmHg yields the best preventative benefits.
I am clinically convinced that the vast majority of heart disease and cancer is foundationally related to unresolved emotional conflict. The study described above clearly seems to support this notion.
Suppressed emotions, such as anger, fear, and sadness, that are not fully transformed will severely limit one’s ability to cope with the normal stresses of life. It is not so much the stress that kills us, but our impaired ability to cope with it. Emotional and spiritual transformation are probably the keys to resolving this