High Blood Pressure Causes
According to the American Heart Association, there’s no easy-to-spot cause for 90% of high blood pressure cases. But experts have identified many culprits that can raise your blood pressure—and plenty of them are under your control. These include smoking; overweight; lack of exercise; a high-salt diet; skimping on fruit, vegetables and dairy; stress; and drinking too much alcohol. Risk factors you can’t control include aging, gender (men are at higher risk), a family history of high blood pressure and race—African-Americans develop hypertension earlier in life and experience more severe complications, such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney problems.
In “essential hypertension” the precise cause is unknown. “Secondary hypertension” is the result of a medical condition like kidney disease. Overweight raises risk two to six times higher than normal—especially if your weight accumulates at your midsection. Having more than 1 drink a day for women, or 2 for men, increases blood pressure levels for some people. Some birth control pills, cold and allergy medicines containing psuedephedrine and even ibuprofen and acetaminophen can boost blood pressure. Most people with high blood pressure are salt sensitive. Sodium increases the water in your bloodstream, making your heart work harder.