Cases of high blood pressure due to mental stress doubled in India in last 10 years: Dr Sumit Aggarwal
Psychological stress, which is on the rise in India, has emerged as the primary cause of hypertension, with cases of stress-induced high blood pressure increasing in the last decade, doctors at Faridabad’s Sarvodaya Hospital say.
“Hypertension has become a widespread problem in recent years due to day-to-day psychological stress, especially among corporate workers and entrepreneurs,” says Dr Sumit Aggarwal
Pointing out that currently, about 90% of all patients with high blood pressure are found to suffer from primary hypertension, for which no physical cause is found, he added, “ 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.”
Stressing that hypertension is more common in men than women, Dr Aggarwal said, “Worse, many people never consult a doctor for their condition. Instead, they buy a blood pressure monitor from a shop and start taking over-the-counter medications.”
“This can be dangerous, as many patients take the wrong or inappropriate medicines. Hypertension needs medical supervision, and one should not indulge in self-medication,” he cautioned.
Talking about the association between chronic stress and the development of hypertension, Dr Aggarwal said, “Prolonged exposure to stress triggers physiological mechanisms that lead to increased blood pressure.”
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Explaining that 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, he added, “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,” Dr Aggarwal elaborated.
Pointing out that people under stress often resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, including overeating, excessive drinking or smoking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle, he added, “ These behaviours, in turn, can lead to weight gain, poor cardiovascular health, and increased blood pressure.”
Work-related stress, financial hardship, and emotional stress all have an impact on the way individuals think. Given the close link between stress and hypertension, adopting good stress management practices can have a positive impact on blood pressure levels.
“Stress-induced hypertension is reversible in early stages by stabilising 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,” Dr Aggarwal said.
“By effectively managing stress levels, individuals can reduce their risk of hypertension and lead a happier, healthier life,” he concluded.