Causes of high blood pressure

What causes it and how to be prepared

Learn all about what causes high blood pressure and what you can do to prevent it.

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (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 to the body and contributes to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, and to the development of heart failure.

There are many causes of high blood pressure with the main ones being: stress, overweight, alcohol consumption, genetics, and lack of physical activity. In as many as 95% of reported high blood pressure cases in the U.S., the underlying cause cannot be determined. This type of high blood pressure is called essential hypertension.


Though essential hypertension remains somewhat mysterious, it has been linked to certain risk factors. High blood pressure tends to run in families and is more likely to affect men than women. Age and race also play a role. In the United States, African Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to have high blood pressure, although the gap begins to narrow around age 44. After age 65, African American women have the highest incidence of high blood pressure. Essential hypertension is also greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle. The link between salt and high blood pressure is especially compelling.  People living on the northern islands of Japan eat more salt per capita than anyone else in the world and have the highest incidence of essential hypertension. By contrast, people who add no salt to their food show virtually no traces of essential hypertension.


High blood pressure plays a role in more than 15% of deaths in the US, yet it is very preventable. According to the American Heart Association 28% of Americans have high blood pressure and don’t even know it. If you haven’t seen a doctor in 2 years its suggested you go.  Although medication is very effective in treating high blood pressure it comes with many side effects such as insomnia, dizziness, and cramping.

There are many natural alternatives to medication.  An example isexercise. Exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, so it doesn't work as hard to pump blood. Another example is loading up on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables are an important part of any blood pressure-lowering program.  Its recommended that 2,000-4,000 mg a day is a goal in potassium. The next is being salt smart. Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to have blood pressure that's particularly salt (or sodium) sensitive. But because there's no way to tell whether any one individual is sodium sensitive, everyone should lower his or her sodium intake. The last being work (a bit) less. Putting in more then 41 hours at the office raises your chances of hypertension by 15% according to a study by the University of California.It may be difficult to clock out super early in today's tough economic times, but try to leave at a decent hour—so you can go to the gym or cook a healthy meal—as often as possible.

Overall the key to maintaining your blood pressure is eating healthy, living an active lifestyle, and managing the stresses in your life properly. This won’t only prevent against high blood pressure but many other preventable issues. 

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Categories: Chest, Health

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