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.
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