Hide this

Even Mild Stress Can Raise Blood Pressure

February 20, 2002 | 29,271 views
Share This Article Share

It's been clear for some time that psychological stress is linked to high blood pressure, or hypertension, but the reason is unknown.

And until recently, investigations of a 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.

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. Conversely, calcium-channel blockers, a different class of antihypertensive drugs, boost the sympathetic nervous system. Autonomic assessment could make it clear whether a patient's sympathetic nervous system is adequate or needs to be enhanced or suppressed.

Hypertension 2002;139:184-188

Effortless Healing – One Step at a Time – NOW AVAILABLE!

My newest book, Effortless Healing is now available! I've organized this book into a guide that will help you avoid the many pitfalls of the conventional approach to health. Rather than relying on expensive and potentially dangerous drugs, I will help you effortlessly make small shifts in what you eat and how you live to achieve your health goals. I promise, Effortless Healing isn't a book that will overwhelm you. On top of that, ordering the book today entitles you to 3 exclusive bonuses:


A sneak peek of my new book! You won’t need to wait for the book to arrive to get started. Begin reading my new book right away with your free sneak preview!


My most popular video interviews, all in one place. I’ve compiled 18 of my BEST expert interviews for you to watch and listen to at your leisure, and in the comfort of your own home or office.


Receive 15% off your next Mercola.com order. Depending on your order, your savings from this one bonus alone could more than cover the cost of your book!

All My Profits from This Book Will Be Donated

That's right. When you order a copy of my new book Effortless Healing, you'll be making a much-deserved donation to the key organizations that work quietly and efficiently behind the scenes to make the world a healthier place for you, your family, and your community.

Among them, you'll be benefiting and supporting the actions of:

  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) – A non-profit organization that seeks to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defending your right of informed choice.
  • Organic Consumers Association (OCA) – A grassroots public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability, and addressing food safety, GMOs, the industrial agricultural complex, children's health, and more. The ONLY U.S. organization focused exclusively on the interests that you and I share!
  • Consumers for Dental Choice – Children, the unborn, and employees in the dental field are particularly vulnerable to mercury. But so is everyone with a mouthful of amalgam fillings (which are 50% mercury) at risk. Consumers for Dental Choice is working to phase out amalgam use and to promote access to mercury-free alternatives.
  • Fluoride Action Network (FAN) – An international coalition aimed at ending water fluoridation and alerting you to fluoride's environmental and health risks. FAN keeps you informed about fluoride toxicity, and monitors government actions that may expose you to fluoride.

Are you ready to get started? The timing has never been better. Order your copy of Effortless Healing today, collect your free gifts, and let your journey begin!


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It has been previously shown that people with heart disease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70% if they learn how to manage stress.

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.

Fortunately, the technology now exists to rapidly and effectively transform these emotions. We do it every day in our office with EFT and other bioenergetic tools.

Through extensive research I have found another tool to use in the area of stress management that is a remarkably effective and efficient (and very affordable) way to help you achieve inner peace and significantly reduce stress and anxiety.

The Insight audio CD, which I personally listen to and now recommend to my patients, is an exceptional tool to help you target the daily stresses in your life that act as prime contributors to all forms of diseases.

Related Articles:

Domineering, Irritable People At Risk For Heart Disease

Anger Test May Identify Those at Risk of Heart Attack

How Stress Affects Your Heart and Gut Health

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico