Pain is an uncomfortable feeling which can be a sign that something is wrong in your body. Pain is felt when you hurt yourself from injury, during labor, after surgery, when doing regular activities or sports, or caused by conditions that need treatment. But how does pain affect blood pressure and heart rate?
Regardless if it is acute or chronic pain, it is known that pain can impact your blood pressure. Studies reveal that people experiencing chronic pain are prone to developing hypertension; a condition when uncontrolled can lead to disability, poor quality of life in general, or death.
How Does Pain Affect Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Explained
The way pain is felt differs for every person. Previous experiences may influence one’s perception of pain making them more tolerant of it. But pain warns your nervous system that something is wrong, prompting the body to go into flight or fight mode. This reaction instantly switches the system into high drive releasing chemicals causing the heart to beat faster.
Pain also activates the baroreceptor reflex, a mechanism that restricts blood flow causing heightened blood pressure. But once the pain subsides, the blood pressure goes back to normal.
But acute pain does not cause high blood pressure compared to chronic pain. Several studies show that those experiencing chronic pain are more exposed to developing high blood pressure and increased heart rate.
This could be because of increased endogenous opioid response, that when prolonged pain is felt this will cause the body to run out of opioids. Long-lasting pain contributes to high pain tolerance and hypertension.
Chronic pain refers to the time of pain that lasts for months or years. Most of the time, this type of pain is caused by back pain, cancer, nerve damage, or arthritis.
Over time, chronic pain can not only put your cardiovascular health at risk but also your quality of life since this will trigger anxiety or depression. And when left untreated, this can lead to heart attack, stroke, or death.
Other Factors Affecting Blood Pressure
Aside from pain, there are other reasons that trigger high blood pressure. These factors include:
Genes play a role in elevated blood pressure. A history of hypertension in the family will likely expose you more to developing the condition. If you happen to have one or more family members with high blood pressure before their senior years, then a higher possibility of you having the condition too.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is common in the older adult population. Blood pressure is expected as people age because arteries get stiffer restricting healthy blood flow even for those who are healthy heart habits.
Existing health condition
People with diabetes and kidney disease are more likely to get high blood pressure because kidney disease can narrow arteries.
An unhealthy diet can cause increased blood pressure. Eating food with high sugar and sodium content can trigger elevated blood pressure. Sodium or salt causes the body to retain water and extra water means extra work on your blood vessel walls which triggers raised blood pressure. Instead of sodium loaded diet, opt for a healthy diet. Go for fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains.
Stress, sleep deprivation, smoking, poor physical activity, and alcohol intake contribute to high blood pressure. Regular workouts or light physical exercise can help manage blood pressure levels.
Limit your alcohol consumption if it cannot be completely eliminated and your doctor can tell you the safe alcohol level that you can take. Quit smoking as this will tighten your blood vessels.
Get enough sleep by going to bed early. You can do this by setting up your room more conducive to sleeping or by doing a healthy sleeping habit.
Signs of High Blood Pressure
Most of the time, there are no signs of high blood pressure until manifestations are experienced. That said, it is a must to have a professional blood pressure monitor to have their blood pressure checked regularly so this can be addressed promptly.
Here are the following symptoms to look out for:
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision or vision problems
- Chest pain
- Pounding in the ears, neck, or chest
- Irregular heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
High Blood Pressure Treatment
Your primary healthcare provider will prescribe high blood pressure medication. This medication should help manage high blood pressure to reduce serious risks of heart problems or other complications.
- You may be prescribed with beta blockers to lower your heart rate, thus lowering blood pressure.
- ACE inhibitors may also be prescribed to avoid narrowing the blood vessels.
- Calcium blockers are another medication that prevents excessive calcium that may restrict the blood flow that triggers high blood pressure.
- Then, there is ARB (Angiotensin II receptor blockers) to promote relaxed blood vessels by blocking angiotensin II
But before these high blood pressure medications, you must find and treat the cause of your chronic pain. This could be attained through medication, therapy, a change of lifestyle, or a combination of all these options.
If you have chronic pain, see your doctor to examine your body or conduct a series of tests to know the cause of the pain. Tests will vary including physical exams, blood tests, urine tests, MRI, X-ray, or other imaging tests.
Seeing a physician can help you by giving certain medications to relieve chronic pain without interacting with your current medication.
Moreover, your doctor may recommend certain therapies to help you manage chronic pain. A combination of medication and therapy can go a long way in alleviating pain and dealing with your condition. But remember, kicking off old bad habits can help, too.
Aside from pain, diet and lifestyle are contributing factors that can lead to high blood pressure.
Hopefully, this How does pain affect blood pressure and heart rate information can help you from not getting hypertension.