While there are no direct causes as to why someone might develop high blood pressure, there are several contribute factors of high blood pressure. There are a number of factors, however just because you may not fit into one of the factors does not mean you are free and clear. Hypertension has been found to effect people who are healthy, exercise daily, and don’t meet any risk factors. Just because you are at a greater risk for developing hypertension does not mean you have to – a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are a step in the right direction to lowering your risk.
Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure
- Family History: High blood pressure has been found to be hereditary, just like hair and eye color. Having a family member who suffers from high blood pressure puts you at risk of developing high blood pressure later in life. This also means that you are likely to pass it along to your children, which is why regular blood pressure checks are necessary in children.
- Unhealthy Diet: To live a healthy life, we need to keep our bodies healthy. Our bodies require certain nutrients to function properly, which is why a diet consisting of foods that are high in calories, sugars, and fats is not healthy. A diet consisting of unhealthy food will often times lead to obesity, which can lead to a number of physical ailments include hypertension. Too much sodium / salt in your diet can cause problems as well, such as excess fluids in your body and a kidney disorder that can cause your body to retain excess wastes which can lead to high blood pressure. A healthy diet that is low in sodium and high in healthy nutrients is a great way to help lower your chances of developing hypertension.
- Obesity: America is currently plagued with an obesity problem. Almost 2/3 of citizens suffer from being overweight, including almost 1/3 of children ages 2 through 19. Obesity in itself can cause high blood pressure in several different ways, including excess strain on the heart, and increase blood cholesterol with a decreased good HDL cholesterol level. To be considered overweight, your body mass index only has to be between 25 and 30, however losing as little as 15 to 20 pounds can greatly reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure.
- Poor Exercise: The best way to keep your body healthy is through exercise. A good exercise routine is a great way to increase the strength of your heart and circulatory system, and overall body health is the leading way to prevent high blood pressure. A poor exercise routine will greatly increase your odds for developing a laundry list of diseases, including high blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke, and heart disease.
- Old Age: Growing old is inevitable, but as our age increases so does the risk for high blood pressure. As we get older, our blood vessels begin to harden which can be a contributing factor to increased blood pressure levels.
- Gender: Researchers have found that men are at a high risk to developing high blood pressure over women. Studies have shown that the risk of high blood pressure is higher within males up until the age of 45. From 45 to 64, the risk levels are very similar between men and women, and after 64 women have a higher risk percentage than men to developing hypertension.
- Excess Alcohol: If you are a regular or heavy drinker, you can put your body at risk for several illnesses, including high blood pressure, heart disease, liver failure, and stroke. If you do consume alcohol, be sure to regulate yourself to no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day (‘drink’ pertains to one 12oz beer, one 5oz glass of wine, one ounce of hard liquor, or one 1.5oz of 80 proof liquor).
While these factors have been known to contribute in the development of high blood pressure, there is no scientific proof that they are in fact directly linked to hypertension.
- Smoking: Smoking can temporarily cause an increase in blood pressure levels. While it has not been proven that smoking can lead to high blood pressure, smoking is extremely harmful to your body and can lead to other conditions, such as heart disease, that can put your body at risk for high blood pressure.
- Stress: Just like smoking, stress has been found to temporarily increase blood pressure levels, although there is no proof that stress can lead to high blood pressure in the long run. While there is no proven link to high blood pressure, stress has been contributed to a greater chance of developing coronary heart disease. Stress can also lead to several unhealthy activities, such as smoking, over eating, and excess alcohol drinking.
Secondary hypertension includes 5% – 10% of all high blood pressure cases and is a form of high blood pressure that is caused by a pre existing medical condition. There are several factors that can lead to secondary hypertension. A kidney abnormality such as a tumor on the adrenal gland above the kidneys, an abnormality that exists in the aorta, or narrowing of the arteries are all factors that can cause secondary hypertension. Although the pre-existing conditions can lead to serious problems, the majority of these conditions can be fixed by doctors.