• Shruti GOCHHWAL

7 Surprising Things That Can Cause High Blood Pressure

What is Blood Pressure?

  1. Blood pressure is the force that moves blood through our circulatory system. This force is vital to push oxygen and nutrients around our circulatory system to nourish tissues and organs.

  2. High blood pressure (hypertension) is when this force against your artery walls is too high.

  3. Blood pressure is depicted as two numbers. The top number is systolic pressure which results as a result of heart muscle contraction.

  4. The bottom number is diastolic pressure which is the pressurein the arteries when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is 120 mm Hg (systolic) and 80 mm Hg (diastolic).

What is High Blood Pressure?

High Blood pressure

A high blood pressure reading, Credits: pxfuel


The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (2003 Guideline)The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults (2017 Guideline)NormalSystolic: less than 120 mm Hg Diastolic: less than 80 mm HgNormalSystolic: less than 120 mm Hg Diastolic: less than 80 mm HgAt Risk (prehypertension)Systolic: 120–139 mm Hg Diastolic: 80–89 mm HgElevatedSystolic: 120–129 mm Hg Diastolic: less than 80 mm HgHigh Blood Pressure (hypertension)Systolic: 140 mm Hg or higher Diastolic: 90 mm Hg or higherHigh Blood Pressure (hypertension)Systolic: 130 mm Hg or higher Diastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher

Adapted from https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm, accessed on 9/9/2020

Types of Blood Pressure

Primary Hypertension

This is the most common type of hypertension and there is no known cause for this hypertension. This type of hypertension may take years to develop and the most important causes are lifestyle, environment, and how our body changes as we age.

Secondary Hypertension

Secondary hypertension occurs when there is an existing illness or due to the intake of certain medicines. Secondary hypertension are due to kidney problems, sleep apnea, thyroid or adrenal gland problems, and some medicines.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Symptoms of High Blood pressure

A woman having a headache, Credits: pixabay


It is important to monitor the blood pressure regularly as high blood pressure does not have noticeable symptoms.  The common symptoms of high blood pressure include

  1. Headache

  2. Dizziness

  3. Chest pain

  4. Visual changes

  5. Blood in the urine

  6. Shortness of breath

7 Surprising Things that Can Cause High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is due to a combination of the following factors. Here we have listed seven things that cause high blood pressure.

Genetics

Genetic predisposition

DNA, Credits: pixabay


Alt tags: Genetic predisposition

You may be at risk of developing hypertension if you have a family member who is hypertensive. Especially, your parents and close relatives. This is called genetic predisposition which is due to abnormalities in genes that are inherited from parents or gene mutations.

Lifestyle Changes

Obesity can increase your blood pressure

Obese Women, Credits: pixabay


The following lifestyle changes can cause high blood pressure.

  1. People who are physically inactive have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries.

  2. Obesity can increase the risk of high blood pressure.The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.

  3. A diet that is high in salt, fat, and cholesterol can cause high blood pressure. Some of the foods that increase your blood pressure include the following

  4. Dairy products like milk and cheese

  5. Alcohol

  6. Coffee

  7. Refined sugar

  8. Frozen fish and seafood

  9. Processed meat

  10. Pickles

  11. Tobacco use and drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. The chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls.

  12. Potassium helps to balance the levels of sodium in your blood. Having a diet that is deficient in potassium can cause the accumulation of sodium in your blood that can increase the blood pressure.

  13. Stress: High levels of stress can temporarily increase your blood pressure.

Age

Age can increase your blood pressure

An old Woman, Credits: pixabay


As age increases, the risk of high blood pressure also increases. Women are likely to develop high blood pressure after the age of 65.

Race

High blood pressure seems to be common among the African heritage. Complications of high blood pressure like stroke, kidney disease, and heart attack are also common among African heritage.

Certain medications

Some medicines can increase your blood pressure

MedicinesCredits: pixabay


Certain medications like birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs can cause secondary hypertension.

Certain Chronic Conditions

Chronic medical conditions

Chest pain, Credits: pixabay


Various chronic conditions like thyroid problems, sleep apnea, kidney problems, congenital heart disease, and adrenal gland problems can lead to secondary hypertension.

Dehydration

Dehydration is linked to high blood pressure. Dehydration can lead to an increase in blood pressure due to the release of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin causes the constriction of blood vessels.

Complications of High Blood Pressure

Uncontrolled blood pressure leads to heart attacks, heart failure, dementia, and metabolic syndrome.

Management of High Blood Pressure

Stay active

A woman in physical activity, Credits: pixabay


The blood pressure readings are measured using a sphygmomanometer. If the readings are high, your doctor will advise you to make the necessary lifestyle modifications and also start you on medications.

Making the required lifestyle modifications can help you manage your blood pressure.

  1. Staying physically active. People should exercise at least five days a week (30 minutes per day).

  2. Consuming foods that are less in salt

DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) – A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy foods.

Reduce dietary sodium. Get plenty of potassium

  1. Limiting the amount of alcohol

  2. Maintaining an ideal weight

  3. Learn relaxation techniques

The following drugs are helpful in treating high blood pressure.

  1. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

  2. Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

  3. Calcium channel blockers

These drugs help relax the muscles of blood vessels.

Take-Home Message

Hypertension is a common problem and the right diet with the right set of exercises can help you manage the condition well.

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