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Thread: High blood pressure or anxiety?

  1. #1

    High blood pressure or anxiety?

    Following a couple of hospital trips for venesections where my blood pressure was elevated through anxiety, I bought a home blood pressure monitor to see what my real blood pressure was away from the hospital setting.

    I freely admit that I have health anxiety and get very stressed over health related matters. I’m a 28 year old male, thin build (about 9st 5lbs), eat a relatively healthy diet and keep quite physically active through a lot of walking

    Whenever I do a blood pressure reading on the monitor, the first reading I get is somewhere around 140/95 (not horrific, but far from ideal). I get quite tense because of my health anxiety which I can tell because my heart rate, which is normally 60-70 when sitting quickly shoots up to over 90 or 100. After a few readings, my BP will generally fall to around 120/90. Then if I sit with the monitor for a while and continue to take readings, it will eventually fall to somewhere around 115/85 (even getting as low as 98/72 once). Sometimes this will happen very quickly and sometimes it will take much longer, even perhaps taking 20 minutes or so. If I go away and do something else and then come back and take another reading, it starts high and I have to bring it down again in the same way.

    So, what is my real blood pressure? Is it the lower reading because I’ve calmed down after initially feeling anxious, or is it the higher reading because that’s the one I got when I first take a measurement? I plan to discuss it with a GP, but would be grateful for advice on whether I genuinely have a blood pressure issue, or this is just part of my anxiety. Has anyone encountered a similar problem? I've noticed that as I've got more anxious the number has been steadily creeping up, now hitting 150/100 a couple of times, so I've banned myself from using the monitor.

    For context: three years ago, before I developed anxiety, my blood pressure at the doctor's was 118/78 and I haven't changed weight or lifestyle significantly since then.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Re: High blood pressure or anxiety?

    Hi there,

    Going through a similar issue myself. I've had low-ish blood pressure all my life. Due to some health issues I was having they told me to take it at home in case it was dropping too low. One day I took it and it was 186/128, the doctor told me that was extremely dangerous and sent me an ambulance. Since then all I have to do is hear the noise as it inflates and my anxiety shoots through the roof. So now I never know if it's anxiety or hbp.
    Sorry not very helpful, but you are not alone x

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016

    Re: High blood pressure or anxiety?

    Same here..

    I had no issues with BP until a few years ago (at the height of my breakdown) when a nurse took my blood pressure and I heard the words, "It's a bit high". After that - my readings were all over the place so I was advised to do the testing at home, where it was normal every time. However, it's now the case that I only have to see that monitor in the surgery and my heart starts banging like a shithouse door in a gale and my readings are now always on the higher than they should be. This, I believe, is due to the amygdala remembering that time where the nurse said it was a bit high because the brain remembers that it triggered a panic attack..

    I should also add that this nurse took my BP with my arm hanging down? But, as I said, I wasn't mentally well at the time so I never questioned it but that's not the correct way to test blood pressure..
    Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2014

    Re: High blood pressure or anxiety?

    That is perfect BP your " calm at home reading " , and that would be the one you go on. When you are home you can still get anxious, especially taking your BP which you are fearing in the first place.

    My suggestion to you from someone that has been there before, put the BP monitor away or give it to an old relative who needs it.

    You fight or flight response and nervous system can engage very quickly. A perfectly normal response to panic/anxiety.

    Best wishes to you.

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