May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, so it’s only fitting to discuss what high blood pressure is, and the mental health connection related to this medical issue.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website states that “high blood pressure (HBP) is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease), heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems.”
Blood pressure in general is the measure of the pressure of blood against artery walls while blood is pumped from the heart, according to the website. In order to be healthy, blood pressure must be consistently in the normal range.
In order to prevent or treat high blood pressure, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, follow the doctor’s orders and any treatment plans.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include older age, family history, certain races and ethnicities, and being obese or overweight. If you have a certain age and gender combination, or engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices like unhealthy diet and exercise routines, you may be at higher risk, according to the website.
The risk factors like being obese or overweight, as well as having an unhealthy lifestyle, can be linked to many other mental and physical health issues besides high blood pressure.
Besides these loose connections, there are some actual direct links between high blood pressure and mental health issues.
The American Heart Association website lists other risk factors for high blood pressure, including “drinking too much alcohol,” which could also be associated with the mental health condition of alcoholism.
Although the website concedes there is not a scientifically proven strong association among stress, sleep apnea and high blood pressure, those two conditions are related to mental health and could be risk factors.
Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder that is more specifically labeled as a “breathing-related sleep disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.