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    Study suggests that elevated stress hormones are linked to higher blood pressure risk

    By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023

    Stress has long been recognized as a culprit behind many health problems, and now a comprehensive study has shed light on its connection to high blood pressure. The study, published in the journal ‘Hypertension’, involved more than 400 adults with normal blood pressure and found that those with high levels of stress hormones in their urine were more likely to develop high blood pressure over the next 6-7 years.

    The Impact of Stress Hormones on Cardiovascular Health

    The research also revealed that higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke. This suggests that stress hormones play a significant role in the development of cardiovascular diseases.

    According to Dr. Kosuke Inoue, the study’s lead author, stress hormones such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and cortisol can surge in response to various stressors, including life events, work, relationships, and financial pressure. These findings highlight the importance of managing stress levels to prevent hypertension and cardiovascular events.

    The Mind-Heart-Body Connection

    The mind-heart-body connection is an emerging area of research that explores how a person’s mental state can impact their cardiovascular health. This study contributes to this growing body of knowledge by demonstrating the detrimental effects of stress hormones on cardiovascular health factors, disease risk, and overall prognosis.

    Previous research had primarily focused on the relationship between stress hormone levels and hypertension or cardiovascular events in patients with existing hypertension. However, this study focused on adults without hypertension, providing valuable insights into stress hormone impact on the general population.

    Stress Hormone Measurement for Prevention

    The study suggests that routine measurement of stress hormones could be considered for preventing hypertension and cardiovascular events, as it provides additional information for identifying individuals at risk. While psychosocial stress is highly individualized, the researchers utilized a noninvasive method—a single urine test—to gauge stress hormone levels. This approach may be useful for determining the need for further screening and intervention.

    Dr. Inoue highlights the need for future research to determine the populations that would benefit most from increased stress hormone testing. This approach could contribute to preventing hypertension and related cardiovascular events. Currently, stress hormone levels are primarily measured when an underlying cause or related condition is suspected. However, if more frequent measurement proves beneficial, it could become a standard practice.

    Study Limitations and Future Directions

    It’s important to note that the study did not include participants with hypertension at the beginning, potentially limiting the study population. Additionally, stress hormone measurement was solely conducted through urine tests, and no other methods were utilized.

    This groundbreaking study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Barbara Streisand UCLA Women’s Health Program, the Toffler Award at UCLA, and the Honjo International Foundation Scholarship.

    In conclusion, this study emphasizes the significant impact of stress hormones on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. By recognizing the link between stress and hypertension, healthcare professionals can devise more effective strategies for preventing and managing these conditions. Managing stress levels through various methods, including relaxation techniques, exercise, and therapy, could help individuals maintain optimal cardiovascular health.

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