When a colleague takes credit for your great idea or a client suddenly moves up a deadline, your blood may feel as if it is boiling. Could such instances give you high blood pressure?
No … and yes. While highly charged situations may cause a temporary spike in blood pressure, research has not confirmed that an accumulation of such occurrences leads to long-term problems. What job stress can do, however, is contribute to unhealthy behaviors that increase the risk of hypertension, such as missing workouts to stay late at the office, eating sodium-filled fast food or worrying too much to sleep properly.
About one in three adults has high blood pressure, though as many as half those people aren’t aware of their condition. According to the American Heart Association, a normal reading is a systolic (top) number of 120 or less and a diastolic (bottom) number of 80 or less. Blood pressure is officially labeled as high when the top number goes over 140 or the bottom over 90.
As uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, it is important for people to have their pressure checked and to take actions such as lifestyle changes or daily medication if the numbers suggest a problem. Many employers offer health insurance discounts and incentives to workers who get screened regularly.
Whether you are trying to maintain a healthy blood pressure or need to get yours down, the American Heart Association recommends these measures:
• Do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week.
• Know your target weight, and stay within that range.
• Keep sodium intake under 1,500 mg a day. (Packaged and processed foods are major sources of salt.)
• Limit alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
• Find ways to limit and relieve stress, including learning how to say “no.”