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Can Anxiety Make Your Blood Pressure Go up?

Ask a Doctor

I have a stressful job, and I put in a lot of hours. I have chronic hypertension, and my doctor told me to take it easy at work, in addition to her prescribed treatment with medication. I’ve cleaned up my diet, quit smoking and reduced my alcohol intake, but I still need medication. I’m not sold on stress as a major factor for hypertension, but the doc tells me it is. Can anxiety really make your blood pressure go up?

Doctor’s Response

Anxiety can cause a person to feel extremely anxious or worried and this can cause an increase in blood pressure. When you are anxious, your heart rate goes up. At the same time, the ventricles (chambers) of the heart contract more forcefully, which causes an increase in pressure. Stress is one a cause of anxiety, and stress can also cause high blood pressure (hypertension).

Anxiety can also cause blood pressure to drop. Sometimes when people are anxious, they don’t breathe properly, which can cause blood vessels to dilate (widen) and blood pressure to decrease.

Conversely, blood pressure changes can also lead to anxiety. Symptoms of both high and low blood pressure include changes in heart rate, lightheadedness, and dizziness, which can cause anxiety or trigger panic attacks in some people.

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Reviewed on 1/10/2019
Sources: References