Today’s fast paced world can be filled with increasing demands and overload: too much to do, not enough time, energy or money to do it. Many of us cope with the stress and try to get through the day by turning to coffee and cigarettes, but this could be affecting your blood pressure in a devastating way and you might not even know it.
It hasn’t been proven that having a stressful lifestyle causes long-term high blood pressure, but what is proven is that blood pressure temporarily rises when you are feeling stressed or anxious, often to alarmingly high levels (it's not uncommon for blood pressure to increase by 20-40 systolic and 10-15 diastolic). If you are stressed/anxious for large parts of the day, your blood pressure will be much higher during these stressful periods.
Apart from the other health issues related to smoking, nicotine can raise your blood pressure by 10 -15 systolic and 5-10 diastolic or more for an hour after you smoke a cigarette etc. If you are smoking 20 cigarettes a day, this is going to result in your blood pressure being raised for 20 hours a day.
Similarly to smoking, drinking caffeinated drinks causes temporary spikes in your blood pressure for an an hour or so after drinking. However, many people are even more sensitive to caffeine and they can experience higher rises in blood pressure which also lasts for a longer period.
Note: If you have a blood pressure monitor you can do your own research and check how your blood pressure reacts when you have smoked a cigarette, had a cup of coffee and when you are feeling stressed.
Let's say normally you have a healthy blood pressure of 120/80, but then let's factor in three kids and a 40 hour a week job which doesn’t pay the bills. The stress and strain adds 20/10 to your blood pressure for large parts of the day, so during this time your blood pressure is now 140/90.
You smoke 20 cigarettes a day to help cope with the stress. This adds another 10/5 to your blood pressure, pretty much 24/7. Now your stressful lifestyle has increased your blood pressure potentially to 150/95.
You drink 10 cups of coffee to give you that boost of energy to cope with the demands. This adds another 10/5 to your blood pressure for ten hours or more a day. During this time, together with the stress and smoking, your blood pressure could be 150/100.
So you don’t have high blood pressure when it is measured in the relatively calm environment of the doctors, but due to a combination of stress/smoking/coffee you could have high blood pressure for 15+ hours a day. Personally, over the long term, I can’t see how this isn’t causing similar problems to your heart and arteries as having a medical diagnosis of high blood pressure.
I appreciate this is far from exact science but I hope it demonstrates the affect stress, smoking and caffeine can have on an otherwise healthy blood pressure. Of course, of even greater concern is for the people that already have high blood pressure to begin with, who are stressed, smoke and drink lots of coffee each day...
The good thing is that moderating caffeine consumption, cutting down or giving up smoking and finding effective ways of dealing stress, will all have a very positive effect on your blood pressure and health in general.
High Blood Pressure Causes 62% of all Strokes and 49% of all Heart Attacks... Check your BP on the blood pressure chart. If the chart shows you are in the prehypertension or hypertension ranges, do something about it, even if it is just having a chat with your doctor. The blood pressure chart is for all adults regardless of age, as whilst your age rises, the thresholds for prehypertension and hypertension don't! (there is no blood pressure chart by age!) No matter what your age - if your BP is above 140/90 you should set about lowering it. You can record and monitor your readings on our printable blood pressure log.