Are you an anxious person? Do you lose your temper easily? If yes, you have often heard friends and relatives telling you to calm down and expressing concern about your high blood pressure. But does being prone to anxiety and quick temper automatically mean high blood pressure? Not necessarily. However, it is important to keep anxiety under control. Experts also point out that especially during winters, it is important to take care of one’s health and blood pressure levels as they tend to rise when the temperature drops.
Anxiety and high blood pressure
Dr Kala Jitender Jain, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad shares, “Usually, anxiety does not cause high blood pressure. Sometimes, it can cause a short-term increase in blood pressure. Whenever an anxious situation arises, the body goes into fight or flight mode. which is due to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Sometimes, anxiety can cause high blood pressure, which is only temporary and blood pressure levels return to normal when the stress level decreases.”
Conversely, high blood pressure can also sometimes increase anxiety. Dr. Kala Jitender Jain says, “Similar to some symptoms of high blood pressure like anxiety-shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain etc.” The bottom line is that treating the underlying anxiety is the doctor’s point. “Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the standard treatment for anxiety disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety disorders. Relaxation therapies such as meditation, yoga and massage can also help,” says Dr Jain.
Why does blood pressure rise in winter?
Doctors say that blood pressure is usually high in winter and low in summer. “Low temperatures cause blood vessels to temporarily constrict, leading to an increase in blood pressure. People must put their heart health first throughout the winter months to mitigate the potential negative effects of low temperatures on heart health,” says Dr. Jain. He recommends keeping skin as little exposed as possible on cold days.
Control of high blood pressure in cold weather
Dr. Jain lists some steps to manage blood pressure in winters. These are:
– Take blood pressure medication as advised by the doctor.
– Maintain a healthy body weight.
– Ensure 150 minutes of exercise a week. It is recommended that people suffering from high blood pressure engage in moderate activity. Don’t overexert yourself, but a daily walk and some light exercise will help maintain heart health.
– Have a heart healthy diet. Choose heart-healthy, nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and foods rich in fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Limit sodium intake.
– Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Drinking too much alcohol is prohibited because it constricts the arteries and blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. Limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake is crucial, even if you’re indoors most of the time.
– Quit smoking. One of the most effective things you can do to reduce your risk of heart attack is to stop smoking. Smoking destroys blood vessels, increases blood pressure and reduces the overall performance of the cardiovascular system.
Layer clothing. Avoid rapid exposure to cold by wearing layers of warm clothing. Remember that in colder temperatures, even snow can be taxing. Don’t overdo it, pace yourself, and take breaks. If you experience dizziness, shortness of breath or chest pain, pay attention to your body’s cues and stop.