You may be feeling a steady stream of tension coursing through your body. An investigation into high-stress levels showed that even if your heart rate is perfect now, you may be at risk of getting hypertension over the next decade or so. According to a study released Monday, the journal of American Heart Association, when the hormone cortisol continues to rise over time, you may also be at greater risk for stroke, heart attack, or heart disease, among other things.

Higher Levels Of Stress Increase Blood Pressure As Well As The Risk Of Heart Attack Or Stroke

Cardiologist Dr. Glenn Levine, who was not related to the research study, said it is another study showing the connection between a person’s mental health and their physical well-being. However, according to Levine, due to the interconnection and interdependence of the mind, heart, and body, a person may also enhance their heart health by attempting to have a healthy psychological perspective.

Higher Levels Of Stress Increase Blood Pressure As Well As The Risk Of Heart Attack Or Stroke

Over a period of five years, between 2005 and 2018, researchers tracked 412 multiracial individuals aged 48 to 87 with 140/90 mmHg, monitoring their urine levels of stress chemicals at various stages along the way. It was then determined if any cardiovascular events, such as high blood pressure, heart discomfort, heart attacks, or bypass surgery had taken place in the participants.

Previous studies focused on the connection between stressed hormone levels as well as hypertension or cardiac diseases in individuals who already had hypertension or were at risk for developing hypertension. According to research author Dr. Kosuke Inoue, studies on individuals without hypertension were scarce. Specifically, the researchers looked for the hormones norepinephrine (also known as adrenaline), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), and dopamine (also known as dopamine).

These hormones regulate the autonomic nervous, which is responsible for controlling involuntary body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

Inoue and his colleagues also looked at cortisol levels, which is a steroid hormone produced by the body in response to acute stress, such as a life-threatening incident. As soon as the threat has gone, the body begins to decrease cortisol production; but, when a person is under constant stress, cortisol levels may stay high.

Among other things, stress from life events, jobs, relationships, money, and other factors may raise levels of epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, and cortisol. Researchers discovered that increased cortisol levels alone, rather than increasing norepinephrine levels, epinephrine levels, or dopamine levels, was linked with a 90 percent increased chance of suffering a cardiovascular event.

For every twofold increase in the total levels of all 4 stress hormones, the chance of having high blood pressure increases by between 21 and 31%. According to the researchers, the impact was more apparent in individuals younger than 60 years old, which is a concerning, result.

“In this context, our results suggest a hypothesis that anxiety hormones play a key role in the etiology of hypertension in the young generation,” the researchers stated in their article. According to the authors, the research had many limitations, including the absence of a control group and the use of just one measure of urine analysis to screen for stress hormones.