The Causes Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can appear as either essential or primary high blood pressure (primary hypertension) or as secondary high blood pressure (secondary hypertension).
In cases of essential or primary high blood pressure, which accounts for some 90% to 95% of all cases of high blood pressure, there is no identifiable cause of high blood pressure and the condition simply develops gradually over a number of years.
In cases of secondary high blood pressure, high pressure often appears quite suddenly and at levels that are higher than those seen in primary high blood pressure. There are several conditions which can give rise to secondary hypertension including kidney problems and some congenital heart defects. Secondary hypertension can also be brought on by certain medicines including a range of prescription medications and over-the-counter cold remedies and decongestants. Birth control pills and even everyday medicines such as Tylenol can also produce secondary hypertension in certain cases.
There are several factors which place you at higher risk from high blood pressure and these fall into two categories:
- Factors over which you have no control:
Factor which you can control:
- Gender. Perhaps surprisingly gender is one of the causes for high blood pressure and you are more likely to suffer from this problem if you are a woman than a man. Currently about 39 million women are suffering from hypertension in the United States, while the figure for men is about 33 million.
- Age. High blood pressure tends to increase with age and is more commonly seen in men in early middle age and in women after the menopause. This said, high blood pressure is now appearing increasingly at younger ages and even in teenagers. In once recent study of a group of 13 year old children 19% were found to have high blood pressure.
- Race. High blood pressure is more common among blacks than whites and often develops at earlier ages in blacks.
- Family history. You are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure if you have a family history of the condition.
- Weight. As your weight increases so your heart needs to pump more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to your growing body tissues. This means increasing the volume of blood passing through the body's blood vessels and the pressure in those vessels. The risk of developing high blood pressure increases significantly with the onset of obesity as your BMI increases beyond 30. With the current obesity epidemic sweeping much of the Western world this is fast becoming one of several major high blood pressure causes.
- Sedentary Lifestyle. A lack of activity results in an increase in your normal heart rate and forces your heart to work harder during constriction, in turn, producing higher pressure within your blood vessels. Learn more about high blood pressure and exercise. Changes to our lifestyle today means that this too is fast becoming a major high blood pressure cause.
- Smoking. The chemicals contained within tobacco smoke damage the lining of your arteries causing them to narrow and pressure to rise.
- Salt. If you have too much salt (sodium) in your diet your body will retain fluid and this, in turn, results in increased blood pressure. Learn more about salt and high blood pressure.
- Potassium. Potassium works together with sodium (salt) and balances the sodium in your cells. As a consequence, a low potassium intake will cause sodium to accumulate in the blood.
- Alcohol. Excessive drinking can, over time, damage the heart and increase your blood pressure.
- Stress. Stress can dramatically increase your blood pressure, although this is normally only temporary and will subside as your stress disappears. However, if you regularly find yourself under stress you may well turn to such things as eating, drinking or smoking for comfort and these, in turn, will raise your blood pressure over time.
More about blood pressure...
DASH Diet For Hypertension
Foods that Lower High Blood Pressure
What Should Your Blood Pressure Be?