Causes of hypertension and ways to reduce it

Kanak Kundlani

In today’s day and age when the world around us expects us to be on the top of our game, getting stressed has become habitual. Although rarely voluntary, stress is our body’s response to difficult situations. Fight and flight mode is a popular response triggered by stress. Hypertension on the other hand, results from prolonged stress. When the body is in a constant state of fight or flight, the body tends to run on Cortisol, the stress hormone. Exposure to this hormone over a period of time can lead to highly elevated blood pressure, leading to hypertension. While stress is one of the main causes of hypertension, here’s a deeper dive into how it actually works, scientifically. 

Although we’ve already introduced you to stress and its contribution to hypertension, let’s start with a detailed view, covering more insights.

Stress – one of the main causes of hypertension

Surprisingly, stress as a phenomenon does not directly cause hypertension, but our body’s reaction to it. When we get stressed, our body releases a surge of different hormones, Cortisol being the primary stress hormone. This surge in turn, causes the heart to beat faster and the blood vessels to narrow. Hence, more pressure on the heart to pump blood through the entire body. This is how high blood pressure comes into picture. 

Stress-induced behaviors however, make the body all the more prone to chronic heart issues and other health conditions. These behaviors include:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Exceeding the recommended caffeine intake 
  • Eating junk food 
  • Lack of physical exercise 

Did you know?

The hormones that the body releases while undergoing emotional distress can physically damage the arteries. 

Source – NCBI

Since hypertension requires a more preventative treatment rather than palliative, here are some more causes of hypertension that can be prevented with the right care. 

stress is one of the main causes of hypertension

Lifestyle choices

One of the most effective ways to exercise preventative treatment for hypertension is making certain lifestyle choices, and sticking to them. Apart from stress being the most prominent contributing factor to hypertension, these  lifestyle choices directly determine how positively the body can react to stress, pretty much interlinking the two. 

Having said that, here are some positive lifestyle changes that can lower the risk of hypertension in the long run. 

  • Controlling your salt intake

A difference of 5 g a day in habitual salt intake is associated with a 23% difference in the rate of stroke and 17% difference in the rate of total cardiovascular issues.

  • Smoking

We’ve all heard countless times how smoking is injurious to health. But have you ever wondered how it actually works? Here’s how it works.

Smoking also affects the vasodilatory function of the body. To simplify, the ability of blood vessels to dilate gets affected. This leads to tighter and tenser blood vessels, hampering the flow of blood from the heart. Inevitably, the pressure on the heart increases, increasing the chances of you developing heart issues phenomenally. 

smoking can lead to hypertension
  • Other lifestyle changes that include stress-induced behaviors

Weight gain | Obesity

Apart from a host of other health issues that obesity triggers, one of the most notorious and chronic has to be hypertension. 

  • The most prominent hypertension symptoms happen to appear in people who are overweight and obese. 
  • Excess fat accumulation around the organs (visceral fat) puts pressure on the heart.
  • Visceral fat also increases the pressure on renal veins and lymph vessels, increasing the chances of hypertension.
weight issues can cause hypertension

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Kanak Kundlani