What causes high blood pressure?
There are two different types of high blood pressure, essential or primary hypertension, and secondary hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, there is no single identifiable cause of primary hypertension, although the causes of secondary hypertension are usually relatively easily identifiable.
However, in the case of primary hypertension, there are many factors that are known to make the condition more likely, and it is a combination of these factors that most commonly causes high blood pressure. These factors include:
- Being seriously overweight or obese. It stands to reason that the greater your body mass is, the harder your heart is going to have to work to pump blood around it. Consequently, there is an increase in pressure on the arterial walls as more blood is produced to supply the necessary oxygen and nutrients throughout your bigger than normal body mass.
- Sleep apnea – brief periods when you stop breathing whilst asleep – is also considered to be a contributory factor to having high blood pressure and is something that overweight people are particularly susceptible to.
- Activity levels can also be a contributory factor. If you are relatively inactive or do not take any exercise, it tends to increase your heart rate, meaning that your heart works harder to pump blood around the body. And of course, it follows that if you are completely sedentary and do not take exercise, this is likely to exacerbate your weight problems as well.
- Family history or genetics. It is a fact that high blood pressure can often run in particular families, with the condition being seen generation after generation. If therefore you have a family history of high blood pressure, it is quite likely that you will have a similar problem.
- Tobacco use. Certain chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco itself can cause damage to blood vessel walls, thereby increasing the work that your heart has to do to pump blood around your body.
- Stress can be a big contributory factor as far as high blood pressure is concerned.
- Sodium intake. Excessive sodium intake can result in increased fluid retention, which in turn leads to increased blood pressure.
- Potassium intake. Taking on board excessively low levels of potassium can result in elevated levels of sodium in body cells because potassium and sodium seek a natural balance in those cells. If one is therefore in the ascendancy, its characteristics are also more likely to be seen.
- Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of heart problems, particularly if this excessive consumption is continued for a significant period of time.
Secondary hypertension problems are generally caused by pre-existing medical conditions such as renal stenosis or some other form of renal disease or heart problems such as aortic coarctation.
In the case of secondary hypertension, it is therefore likely that your medical condition which has caused your high blood pressure is already being treated, and part of that treatment is likely to be focused on dealing with your blood pressure problems.
Whilst it cannot be said that this lessens the severity of high blood pressure problems caused by secondary hypertension, it does suggest that these problems are far more likely to be effectively managed. After all, as has been suggested, one primary hypertension problem is the fact that many millions of people have high blood pressure and are not even aware of the fact. This is obviously not the case when someone has secondary
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Watch out for another article tomorrow: Common Medical Treatments For Hypertension