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What causes high blood pressure?

 

Our blood pressure is a measurement of the force at which the blood pushes against the walls of the blood vessels. When high blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is detected, it is a sign that the heart is working harder to pump the blood around the body, which can be a factor in the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This can contribute to a number of cardiovascular conditions from strokes to heart failure, as well as kidney disease. So in short, high blood pressure is a serious matter!

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:

Obesity

The higher level of fatty tissue in individuals who are overweight increases vascular resistance, which has the affect 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 blood stream, which could increase the strain on the blood vessels which lead to the kidneys, causing higher blood pressure.

Smoking

smoking raises blood pressure, due to the narrowing the arteries, hardening their walls, and increasing the risk of blood clots.

Alcohol abuse

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

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 or adrenaline and noradrenaline, leading to short term high blood pressure, or a longer term condition. It has been found that people with hypothyroidism have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure.

Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea which leads to a regular lack of sleep has been identified as a potential cause of high blood pressure.

As you can see, the causes of high blood pressure are numerous and varied. While some conditions might be unavoidable, there are many lifestyle-related choices which can be crucial in steering clear of high blood pressure, and maintaining good heart health.