According to the CDC, high blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, currently affects an estimated 75 million Americans. That’s approximately 30% of the nation. The dangers of high blood pressure are many. It raises the risk of heart conditions such as stroke and heart attack. In addition to your heart, elevated blood pressure can negatively affect other organs such as your kidneys, brain, and eyes. Not everyone has the same underlying cause of this condition, though. Below we’ll explore some possible causes of high blood pressure.
There are a few possible dietary causes for high blood pressure. One of these, perhaps the most well-known, is too much salt. When you eat a diet high in salt, your body holds on to extra water. This excessive fluid in the body increases pressure on the blood vessel walls, causing them to thicken and become narrower. In turn, this causes the heart to have to work extra hard to pump blood throughout the body.
Another dietary cause of high blood pressure is too much alcohol. Alcohol is converted to sugar inside the body, which then produces insulin to metabolize it. Elevated insulin levels result in elevated blood pressure.
Potassium is an important mineral to get in your diet in order to prevent high blood pressure. Too little potassium can cause hypertension.
A diet high in bad fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, can also result in high blood pressure. These result in a buildup of cholesterol in the body.
Certain lifestyle choices can result in elevated blood pressure. Smoking has been shown in numerous studies to raise blood pressure. Smoking causes plaque buildup in the arteries, which in turn causes hypertension by making the heart work harder to pump blood. This is true even for secondhand smoke.
Lack of physical activity also can increase blood pressure. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain which in itself is a cause of hypertension. Regular exercise is important to keeping healthy.
Having a highly stressful lifestyle is another cause of hypertension. Not just small stressors here and there, however, but chronic stress.
In obese individuals, the fatty tissue in the body results in an increase in something called the vascular resistance. This causes the heart to have to work harder to pump blood, which is what high blood pressure essentially is.
As people age, their blood pressure naturally gets higher. This is due to decreased efficiency of the heart and changes in blood vessels as part of the aging process, among other factors.
High blood pressure has a genetic component. Researchers have found multiple blood pressure related regions located within people’s genomes. High blood pressure is also known to run in families. If you have a family member with the condition, it puts you at a higher risk for developing hypertension at some point yourself.
Of course, certain medical issues can cause high blood pressure as well. These include chronic kidney disease, adrenal disorders, thyroid disorders, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Pregnancy can also cause blood pressure to rise, and if it gets too high, can lead to complications of the pregnancy.
Finally, some medications have the side effect of raising your blood pressure. Be sure to have regular checkups if you are on a medication known to raise blood pressure. If the medication is essential, discuss how to lower your blood pressure with your doctor, such as regular exercise, quitting smoking (if applicable), dietary changes, and working on reaching a healthy weight (if applicable), as well as high blood pressure treatments if necessary.
If you are worried about your blood pressure numbers, or would like to discuss your high blood pressure and ways to reduce it with a doctor, contact us here at MD Avail. Have a video conference with a doctor for a flat fee of just $60, even without insurance.