Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects one in three adults in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your heart pumps blood through your body at a certain rate — this is your blood pressure. The American Heart Association considers blood pressure readings of 120/80 mmHg normal. People who consistently show blood pressure readings of 140/90 mmHg or higher have hypertension. Medical professionals call hypertension the silent killer because patients seldom exhibit symptoms, and the complications can be serious. Fight high blood pressure by first being aware of the hypertension causes.
What Increases Blood Pressure?
It is important to note the two types of hypertension: essential and secondary hypertension. Essential hypertension develops slowly over time, and there is no underlying cause. These factors can aid the development of essential hypertension:
- Lack of physical activity
- Old age
- Too much salt in the diet
- Daily alcohol consumption
Secondary hypertension appears suddenly, has an underlying cause, and causes higher blood pressure readings than essential hypertension. These conditions are secondary hypertension causes:
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Genetic defects in the blood vessels
- Certain medications including birth control pills, decongestants, cold remedies, pain killers, and other prescription drugs
- Kidney problems
- Cocaine or amphetamine abuse
Almost 95 percent of all cases have no underlying cause. However, medical professionals developed risk factors to look for based on the cases they have seen over time. We know now that hypertension, just like a number of other diseases, tends to run in families. Genetics plays a part in causing high blood pressure, and men develop hypertension more than women.
In fact, race plays a role in hypertension causes, too. African-Americans tend to get diagnosed with the disease in more instances than Caucasians. However, the gap between the two narrows in people over 44.
Despite all other factors, diet and lifestyle still offer the most compelling links to hypertension. Salt, especially, has an interesting connection to high blood pressure. People who eat salty foods show traces of hypertension while people who eat little to no salt rarely show traces of the disease. Overall, people with a healthy diet and lifestyle have a better chance of keeping their blood pressure in check and fending off hypertension.
Health Complications Due to Hypertension
Hypertension causes your heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body. This contributes to many other health complications that are generally serious in nature.
Often times, the conditions listed above result in fatality or a serious impediment to your future health. Do not ignore hypertension while you still have time to do something about it. Keep your heart healthy — after all, it is the hardest working organ in your body!