Increased heart rate may result in heavy breathing and lightheadedness. These symptoms may be due to stress and may aggravate the condition called hypertension. Hence, identifying hypertension for most undiagnosed patients may be similar to stress symptoms.
What many don’t know is that when the body is under stress, it can produce hormones that elevate the heart rate which somehow contributes to elevated blood pressure. Putting a lot of stress on major organs and blood vessels leading to their damage.
People with hypertension must actively avoid stress carriers for the sake of their well-being. Children or grandchildren whose family has a history of hypertension or heart disease should steer clear of stressors, too, as 50% of the condition is caused by genetics.
Dr. Erick Frago, Director for the Grepa Medical Diagnostic Clinic, shares these tips to avoid stress:
1. Stop smoking. A Stanford Medicine study on coronary heart disease in the Philippines said 28% of Filipinos smoke cigarettes. Some admit they “self-medicate” with cigarettes to relieve stress. However, smoking only heightens feelings of anxiety and tension because it stimulates the brain to be in such a state. Likewise, prolonged smoking damages the lungs, preventing good air exchange between CO2 and Oxygen.”
Dr. Frago says cutting cigarette consumption is key to good heart health. E-cigarettes and vape pens aren’t safe either, as shown by many clinical studies that the risk developed from cigarettes is also noted from e-cigarettes.
2. Cut the caffeine. Another stimulant drug to avoid is caffeine: coffee, tea, and even chocolates. Caffeine causes a short but sharp spike in blood pressure, which explains the palpitations that come after having one too many cups of joe. Excessive caffeine can also cause sleeping difficulties, which leads to sleep deprivation that can elevate blood pressure.
Dr. Frago recommends sticking to one to three cups of coffee a day, preferably naturally brewed and not the instant type. “Decaffeinated coffee may be a good alternative but still in moderate amounts. Those who normally drink four to six cups daily may cut down their consumption gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.”
3. Pay your sleep debt. Not getting enough sleep or rest is another stressor that can exacerbate hypertension. A study on stress published by The American Psychological Association says adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night experience higher levels of stress than those who get at least 8 hours of sleep.
For those who struggle to sleep at night, Dr. Frago suggests not eating a big meal or consuming caffeine at least two hours before bedtime. “Avoid using gadgets an hour before bedtime, too, as the blue light emitted by your mobile phone or laptop stimulates the brain to be kept awake,” said Dr. Frago. “Keep a warm ambience by using warm lighting in bedrooms to stimulate sleep.
Avoid making your bedroom an office, if possible, separate the working area from your resting area inside your household. As always suggested to leave your personal problems at home when going to work, leave your work problems in your office when you go home.”
4. Take a break. “Being a workaholic is bad for your heart,” says Dr. Frago. A study by the American Heart Association about working long hours supports this statement, showing that working more than 49 hours a week can increase your chances of developing chronic hypertension by 66%.
“Take work breaks every now and then,” says Dr. Frago. “Stretch, drink water, and avoid looking at a device screen for at least 10 minutes. Additionally, set a time limit for the workday to have ample time for rest. Always remember that the 24 hours in a day can be divided into three 8-hour windows specifically designed for your need. The first 8-hour window ought to be dedicated to work; the second window dedicated to sleep to keep you recharged; and the last 8-hour window
dedicated to quality time spent on yourself, family, and friends. Remember that the last 8 hours are priceless.”
5. Invest in your self-care. Dr. Frago says self-care habits, even simple ones, go a long way in reducing stress. These include carving out time for hobbies, getting a massage, and spending time outdoors, among others. These activities help people relax and disconnect from stressful events, allowing their blood pressure to stabilize.
Self-care also involves staying on top of one’s physical health. Going to checkups regularly, monitoring blood pressure, and taking medication are critical to avoiding hypertensive crises and other illnesses.
Getting insured is another form of self-care. Health insurance coverage can help secure your finances in case of medical-related issues, as the benefits can be used to support expenses for healthcare products and services.
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