Fix Your Numbers: Top Causes of High Blood Pressure

Did you know that 75 million Americans (29%) have high blood pressure? 

Having high blood pressure can greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke — which are two of the three main leading causes of death in the United States.

Keep reading to discover the factors that influence blood pressure and learn more about how you can reduce your blood pressure. 

What is High Blood Pressure?

When people talk about blood pressure, they are referring to the force of your blood as it flows around your body, through your arteries. Your arteries carry your blood from your heart to the rest of your body.

Every time your heart beats, blood is pushed through your arteries. When your blood is flowing through your body it puts pressure on your artery walls, this is known as blood pressure.

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) happens when your blood moves through your arteries at a higher pressure than normal.

There are various reasons why someone might have blood pressure, but if it remains high and is left untreated, it can cause serious health problems. Untreated high blood pressure can put you at a higher risk of heart disease, having a heart attack, having a stroke, and/or having kidney failure.

Primary Hypertension and Secondary Hypertension

A blood pressure reading can determine the overall health of your blood and arteries. You’ll commonly see it written like 120/80, which reads 120 over 80.

There are two types of high blood pressure that you can have. The first is called primary hypertension and the second is called secondary hypertension.

Primary hypertension is the most common type of hypertension and sometimes it may be unclear as to what is causing your blood pressure to be higher. Often primary hypertension develops over years and is either a result of your lifestyle, environment or how your body changes with age.

Secondary hypertension is caused by another health problem that you might have or by medicine that you are taking. Secondary hypertension can be caused by thyroid or adrenal gland problems, kidney problems, sleep apnea, or certain medication.

A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80.

An elevated blood pressure is 120-129/less than 80. Stage 1 high blood pressure is between 130-139/80-89. Stage 2 high blood pressure is between 140 and above/90 and above.

Hypertension crisis is higher than 180/higher than 120. If your blood pressure is this high, then you need to see a doctor immediately. 

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

There is a whole range of reasons for high blood pressure, so what causes high blood pressure for one person might be completely different for another.

Some causes of high blood pressure include:

  • Stress
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Consumption of too much alcohol
  • Consumption of too much salt in your diet
  • Sleep apnea
  • Race
  • Smoking
  • Older age
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders
  • Chronic kidney disease

High blood pressure can be treated. Depending on what is causing your high blood pressure, you will be able to treat and hopefully lower it. Make sure you talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your blood pressure.

Factors That Cause Primary Hypertension

High blood pressure causes for primary hypertension are usually unknown, with as many as 95% of high blood pressure cases in the U.S. being unknown. However, experts believe that there are several higher risk factors involved with primary hypertension. 

For example, those with primary hypertension are more likely to have high blood pressure in their family’s genes and it is more likely to affect men than women.

Another factor that could potentially play a role in developing primary hypertension includes your age and race. Older people are more likely to have higher blood pressure, for men it is up until about 64 years old, whereas women are more likely to develop it after the age of 65. Black Americans, especially those of African heritage, are twice as likely than white Americans to have high blood pressure. 

Other factors of having primary hypertension include diet and lifestyle. There’s a link between salt and high blood pressure – the highest incidence of primary hypertension is found in the northern islands of Japan, where residents eat more salt per capita than anyone else in the world.

Those who are obese, have diabetes, have high-stress levels are also at a higher risk of having high blood pressure. As are those who don’t partake in enough physical activity and exercise, and those who drink too much alcohol. Another cause of primary hypertension could also be an insufficient intake of potassium, magnesium, and/or calcium.  

Factors That Cause Secondary Hypertension

Secondary hypertension is when a direct cause of high blood pressure has been identified. The most common condition that causes high blood pressure is kidney disease. 

Secondary hypertension can also be caused by tumors or abnormalities to the adrenal glands (which are the small glands that sit on top of the kidneys). The abnormalities of the adrenal glands that cause high blood pressure are often triggered when too many hormones are being secreted.

Another cause of secondary hypertension is medication, such as birth control pills, especially those that have estrogen in them. Pregnancy can also boost a woman’s blood pressure. 

Any medication that constricts blood vessels can also cause secondary hypertension. So, if you’re worried about any medication you’re currently taking make sure you speak to your doctor about it and see if you can find other medication. 

Learn more about high blood pressure and what treatment is available for you.

Familiarize Yourself with the Factors That Influence Blood Pressure

Understanding what the factors that influence blood pressure are can help you and your loved ones stay healthy and happier for longer, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the factors. Remember that if you think that you or a loved one has high blood pressure to go to the doctors to find out if you do and what could be causing it. 

If you found this article insightful why not also check out some of our other health-related articles and stay in the know about you and your health.