High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a common disease that occurs when the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood throughout the body. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and more, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
6 Ways to Prevent High Blood Pressure
Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms of it. That’s why the condition has been dubbed a “silent killer.”
In rare cases, and if blood pressure reaches dangerous levels, a person may get headaches or more nosebleeds than normal, per the AHA.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The following can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure.
OLDER AGE The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age; the older you are, the more likely you are to develop high blood pressure. According to the AHA, blood vessels gradually lose their elasticity over time, which can contribute to high blood pressure.
The risk of prehypertension and high blood pressure has been increasing in recent years in young people too, including children and teens, possibly because of the rise in obesity in these populations, reports the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
RACE According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure is more common in Black American adults than in white, Asian, or Hispanic American adults.
GENDER Men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, until age 64, per the AHA.
However, after that age, women are more likely to have high blood pressure.
Family History Having a family history of high blood pressure increases your risk, as the condition tends to run in families, reports the AHA.
BEING OVERWEIGHT The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Per the Mayo Clinic, when the volume of blood pumping through your blood vessels increases, the pressure on your artery walls also rises.
LACK OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY People who are not active tend to have a higher heart rate and higher blood pressure than those who are physically active, according to the Mayo Clinic.
NOT EXERCISING also increases the risk of being overweight.
Tobacco Use When you smoke or chew tobacco, your blood pressure rises temporarily, partly from the effects of nicotine. Moreover, chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls, which can cause your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
BEING EXPOSED TO SECONDHAND SMOKE may also increase your blood pressure.
DIETARY CHOICES What you choose to eat (and not to eat) can increase your risk of hypertension, per the Mayo Clinic:
- Too much sodium can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
- Since potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells, not getting enough of it can raise blood pressure.
ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION Over time, heavy alcohol use can damage the heart and lead to heart failure, stroke, and irregular heart rhythm. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The AHA advises no more than two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women. One drink equals 12 ounces (oz) of beer, 4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz of 100-proof spirits.
STRESS Being under intense stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure, according to the AHA.
Moreover, if you try to cope with stress by overeating, using tobacco, or drinking alcohol, all of these can contribute to high blood pressure.
Chronic Conditions Having kidney disease, sleep apnea, or diabetes can affect blood pressure, per the Mayo Clinic.
PREGNANCY Being pregnant can cause an increase in blood pressure. According to the CDC, high blood pressure occurs in 1 in every 12 to 17 pregnancies in women ages 20 to 44.
Birth Control Women who take birth control pills have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. It’s more likely to occur when women are overweight, have had high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy, have a family history of blood pressure, smoke, or have mild kidney disease, according to the AHA.
CAUSES OF SECONDARY HYPERTENSION
When high blood pressure arises suddenly due to an identifiable condition, it’s called secondary hypertension.
Per the Mayo Clinic, the following conditions can lead to secondary hypertension, including:
- Kidney problems
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Thyroid problems
- Blood vessel defects
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Alcohol abuse or chronic alcohol use
- Illegal drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines
DRUGS THAT CAN CAUSE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Medications that you take to control other health conditions, such as arthritis, epilepsy, or allergies, can cause your blood pressure to rise
Source: Everyday Health.com