Women over 50 exposed to negative social interactions, such as conflict, excessive demands, criticism, disappointment, or other unpleasantness, could be at increased risk of high blood pressure according to new research.
The study by Carnegie Mellon University, which followed 1,502 healthy adults of 50+ over a four year period, found that negative social interactions with family members and friends could increase hypertension risk among older women by as much as 38%.
Although the authors of the study were quick to point out that it wasn’t large enough to prove cause and effect, their results are consistent with previous studies into the effects that negative social interactions can have on health.
The study examined negative social interactions in the four social areas traditionally considered to be close relationships: partners, children, other family members and friends.
The research suggested that the type of relationship matters. Negative social interactions with friends and family led to a significant increase in hypertension risk whereas negative interactions with children and partners made less difference.
But while negative social interactions were associated with increased hypertension risk in women, these same interactions were not associated with a higher risk of hypertension in men.
“There is a body of evidence in social psychology research suggesting that women care more about and pay more attention to the quality of their relationships,” said Rodlescia Sneed, lead researcher and Ph.D. candidate in psychology.
“Our findings suggest that women are particularly sensitive to negative interactions, which is consistent with this previous work.”
At Hypnotension, we know from clinical experience that dealing with chronic stress can bring about a dramatic reversal in high blood pressure, and that social conflict is one of the most frequently reported causes of stress by women.
Although it seems that men aren’t as stressed by relationship conflicts as women, our experience has shown that men are affected by other social stressors, such as being burdened with responsibility, feeling lack of control in life, and feelings of anger or guilt.
The interesting thing is that in many cases, men are unaware that these factors are causing them stress, so they can remain hidden in the background until, with the help of a Certified Hypnotension Practitioner, they suddenly realise what’s been affecting their blood pressure all those years.
So, if you have high blood pressure, take some time to think about the social stressors in your life – are there conflicts at home or with friends? Are you angry at someone, or carrying guilt for something that happened long ago? Are you burdened with excessive demands from family?
If there are, what can you do to resolve these social conflicts? Can you make the first move? Can you let go of your hurt and forgive?
If you can, you should – and if you want to but are struggling, then maybe you’d find it useful to see one of our Certified Hypnotension Practitioners.