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World Hypertension Day: The link between work stress and hypertension

Hypertension is dangerous in that it often has no symptoms, meaning that many people may not even realise they have it. Picture: Joshua Chehov /Unsplash

Hypertension is dangerous in that it often has no symptoms, meaning that many people may not even realise they have it. Picture: Joshua Chehov /Unsplash

Published May 17, 2023


As one of the most common health conditions in the world, hypertension can lead to serious health problems if left unmanaged.

Hypertension occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is consistently too high. This force can cause damage to the arteries and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. What makes hypertension particularly dangerous is that it often has no symptoms, meaning that many people may not even realise they have it.

According to Dr Martin Mpe, a prominent cardiologist, studies have further shown a strong correlation between work stress, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“The effects of workplace stress from excessive workloads, long hours or high levels of pressure can manifest physically in a multitude of ways, such as a continuously elevated heart rate and raised blood pressure levels,” he said.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from hypertension?

The good news is that there are many changes you can make to your lifestyle that can help manage your blood pressure levels.


One of the most important changes you can make is to eat a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, and low in saturated and trans fats. Eating a healthy diet has been shown to lower blood pressure levels and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Physical activity

Getting regular exercise is also crucial for managing hypertension. Exercise helps to strengthen your heart and improve overall blood circulation, which can lower blood pressure levels. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming) most days of the week.


Stress is another major contributor to hypertension. When we’re stressed, our bodies release hormones that increase blood pressure levels. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Recommendations from an expert

According to Dr MPE, employers can alleviate workplace stress and combat hypertension by taking the following steps:

Encourage a healthier work-life balance by allowing for more flexible working hours, and remote work options, and encouraging employees to take regular breaks and vacations.

Foster a supportive work environment and encourage open communication, provide opportunities for employees to express their concerns and ideas, and make them feel valued.

Provide stress management resources such as stress management workshops, seminars, or training programmes that will help teach employees coping strategies and relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.

Implement workplace wellness programmes that include physical activity, nutrition, mental health support, and smoking cessation resources.

Set realistic expectations and workloads. Avoid overloading employees with unnecessary tasks and do away with unrealistically tight deadlines.

Taking steps to protect your heart health is especially important because hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death worldwide. By making simple lifestyle changes, you can lower your risk of developing hypertension and reduce your risk of life-threatening health problems.

If you’re concerned about your blood pressure levels, talk to your healthcare provider.

Regular blood pressure checks are an important part of maintaining your health, and your healthcare provider can provide guidance on the lifestyle changes you can make to manage your blood pressure levels and protect your heart health for years to come.

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.