Blood pressure is the force that a person’s blood exerts against the walls of their blood vessels. This pressure depends on the resistance of the blood vessels and how hard the heart has to work.
Almost half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but many are not aware of this fact.
Hypertension is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and aneurysm. Keeping blood pressure under control is vital for preserving health and reducing the risk of these dangerous conditions.
In this article, we explain why blood pressure can increase, how to monitor it, and ways to keep it within a normal range.
Management and treatment
Regular physical exercise
Reducing salt intake
Moderating alcohol consumption
Eating more fruit and vegetables and less fat
Managing body weight
The DASH diet
The cause of hypertension is often not known. In many cases, it is the result of an underlying condition.
Doctors call high blood pressure that is not due to another condition or disease primary or essential hypertension.
If an underlying condition is the cause of increasing blood pressure, doctors call this secondary hypertension.
Primary hypertension can result from multiple factors, including:
- blood plasma volume
- hormone activity in people who manage blood volume and pressure using medication
- environmental factors, such as stress and lack of exercise
Secondary hypertension has specific causes and is a complication of another health problem.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common cause of high blood pressure, as the kidneys no longer filter out fluid. This excess fluid leads to hypertension.
Conditions that can lead to hypertension include:
- diabetes, due to kidney problems and nerve damage
- kidney disease
- pheochromocytoma, a rare cancer of an adrenal gland
- Cushing syndrome that corticosteroid drugs can cause
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a disorder of the cortisol-secreting adrenal glands
- hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
- hyperparathyroidism, which affects calcium and phosphorous levels
- sleep apnea
A number of factors increase the risk of hypertension.
- Age: Hypertension is more common in people who are more than 60 years of age. Blood pressure can increase steadily with age as the arteries stiffen and narrow due to plaque buildup.
- Ethnicity: Some ethnic groups are more prone to hypertension than others. African Americans have a higher risk than other ethnic groups, for example. · Size and weight: Being overweight or obese is a primary risk factor.
- Alcohol and tobacco use: Regularly consuming large quantities of alcohol or tobacco can increase blood pressure.
- Sex: According to a 2018 review, males have a higher risk of developing hypertension than females. However, this is only until after women reach menopause.
- Existing health conditions: Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and high cholesterol levels can lead to hypertension, especially as people age.
Other risk factors include:
- sedentary lifestyle
- salt rich, high fat diet
- low potassium intake
Poorly managed stress and a family history of high blood pressure can also contribute to the risk of developing hypertension.
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