6. Stressing out
We’re still learning about the links between stress and blood pressure. We do know that when you’re feeling stressed, your blood pressure can temporarily surge higher. What’s not clear yet is whether chronic stress by itself leads to long-term hypertension. But it’s safe to say that when you’re stressed out, you may be more likely to eat too much, drink too much and not sleep enough, which are all causes of hypertension. Plus if you’re under stress, your self-care often suffers. You may skip your blood pressure medications, for example. But stress management techniques like exercise and meditation can help to reduce your blood pressure, so why not reap all the benefits at once?
The more we know about factors that increase blood pressure, the easier it is to avoid them. “If we live long enough, about 95 percent of us will develop high blood pressure,” Dr. Ward points out. “But by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we can push off that inevitable increase in blood pressure as long as possible.”