Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into blood vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood out to the body and contributes to the hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, to stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure.
A blood pressure reading is written like this: 120/80. It’s read as “120 over 80.” The top number is called the systolic, and the bottom number is called the diastolic. The ranges are:
- Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
- Elevated: 120-129/less than 80
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130-139/80-89
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above
- Hypertension crisis: higher than 180/higher than 120 — See a doctor right away
If your blood pressure is above the normal range, talk to your doctor about how to lower it.
Potential causes of high blood pressure
So how can we avoid high blood pressure? The best way to find out can be to look at the causes:
The higher level of fatty tissue in individuals who are overweight increases vascular resistance, which has the effect of upping the work rate which is required by the heart in its blood pumping function – this can contribute to higher blood pressure.
- Too much salt
Is your diet packed with salty foods? The result could be a disruption of the sodium levels in your bloodstream, which could increase the strain on the blood vessels which lead to the kidneys, causing higher blood pressure.
Smoking raises blood pressure due to narrowing the arteries, hardening their walls, and increasing the risk of blood clots.
Alcohol consumption increases lipids and fats in the bloodstream, damaging and hardening the arteries, leading to high blood pressure.
- Old age
Structural changes in the arteries over time cause artery stiffness, leading to higher blood pressure.
Stress-related hormones cause the heart to beat faster and the blood vessels to narrow, increasing the blood pressure.
- Family history
It is thought that genetic factors are a factor in the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, as well as other heart-related conditions.
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
Conditions such as pheochromocytoma can increase the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline, leading to short term high blood pressure or a long term condition. It has been found that people with hypothyroidism have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure.
- Sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea that leads to a regular lack of sleep has been identified as a potential cause of high blood pressure.
The causes of high blood pressure are numerous and varied. While some conditions might be unavoidable, many lifestyle-related choices can be crucial in steering clear of high blood pressure and maintaining good heart health.