Thursday, 13 October 2016

Stress and Blood Pressure Spikes

Yes, stress will lead to increased blood pressure (this will not just be a spike it will be a prolonged response that last the duration of your stress) because your body can not tell the difference between a perceived threat or an actual threat. Meaning your body will respond the same way to either case. If you were to stumble across a lion in the jungle or stress about an absurd deadline while in the office, both cases will lead to the same wide spread physiological response.

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How to low stress of high blood pressure:

You have 2 divisions of the autonomic nervous system; sympathetic ( fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) . Both divisions are always active and can be thought of a balance beam, at times one division can dominate over the other, but generally they are about equal at rest. Most organs of the body are dual innervated by SNS and PNS nerves which gives your body fine control over these organs (equivalent to the 2 pedals of your car, one breaks and one accelerates).

Under stress (stimulating sympathetic response equivalent to your bodies gas pedal) you are creating a wide spread response throughout your body: pupils dialate, inhibition of the digestive system, construction of blood vessels (increase in bp), increased heart rate, and even increased glycogen break down in the liver/skeletal muscles which also lead to increased blood pressure (more glucose in the blood for long periods of time). We evolved these mechanism to be able to maintain a prolonged response when running from a lion or trying to catch food.

The problem is that in the post industrialized area we are promoting the same fight or flight response but for vastly different reasons. Sitting for 4 hours a day makes you 50% more likely to develope cardiovascular disease and a prolonged sympathetic stimulation will only add to this chance. You could rely on medication, but you are not addressing the cause of your problem. Breathing techniques can be used to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and help restore you to the appropriate balance between the 2 extremes.

In conclusion, I would recommend meditation or other coping mechanisms that teach you how to perceive stress in a more beneficial way.

Your body can only respond in the way the stimulus is interpreted by the mind (at the cerebral cortex) so If you learn to perceive stress in a different way it will have profound impacts on your body and you won't have to rely on drugs.


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