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Home >> Causes of High blood pressure  

 Causes Of High Blood Pressure

In 90 to 95 per cent of cases, the exact cause of high blood pressure is unknown. These cases are known as primary or essential hypertension. But researchers have identified a number of risk factors that may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. The following are the contributing factors:

  1. Heredity: The propensity toward high blood pressure often seems to run in families. So, if your parents or other close blood relatives have high blood pressure, you are more likely to develop it than is someone with a family history of normal blood pressure. If other family members have suffered strokes or heart attacks at an early age, you and your family members should have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  2. Sex: Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure than women. But after menopause, a woman's risk of hypertension increases and exceeds the incidence in men.
  3. Age: High blood pressure occurs most often in those over age 35. Men seem to experience hypertension most often between 35 and 50. Women are more likely to develop it after menopause. In general, the older a person gets, the greater the chance that he or she will develop high blood pressure.
  4. Obesity: There are strong indications that obesity, body weight that is 20 per cent or more above the person's ideal body weight, help trigger hypertension.
  5. Sodium: The amount of sodium in the foods we eat is also a big contributor to high blood pressure. Sodium makes many of us retain water, which increases the volume of the blood in our bodies and makes our heart work harder to pump it. There is also evidence that sodium in some way damages the linings of blood vessels, making way for. scarring and clogged arteries. Table salt is about 40% sodium. Researchers have found that cutting salt by 3,000 milligrams per day — that is a little less than a teaspoon's worth — could prevent 26% of all strokes and 15% of heart attacks caused by blood clots. Consequently, many who are diagnosed as hypertensive are routinely put on a sodium-restricted diet.
  6. Alcohol: A number of studies have shown that heavy, regular consumption of alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically.
  7. Combined risk factors: such as oral contraceptives with smoking. The risk of developing high blood pressure increases by several times when women who take oral contraceptives also smoke cigarettes. The risk also increases when an overweight person smokes.
  8. Sedentary lifestyle: A lack of exercise contributes to hypertension by promoting obesity and poor circulation. Moderate exercise may help those with relatively mild hypertension. On the other hand, overexertion can be dangerous and, in some cases, may not be advisable. Patients whose blood pressure stay higher than about 170/ 105, even while taking medications, should avoid exercise entirely. In any case, an aspiring exerciser with high blood pressure should always check first with his or her physician to plan a safe programme of activity.
  9. Psychological factors: These factors play a crucial role in high blood pressure. A 20-year study of American adults showed that severe anxiety and worry make middle-aged men twice as likely to develop high blood pressure.

Some of the factors that may contribute to or help cause hypertension are controllable, and some are not. The important thing is to focus not on what you cannot change, but what you can. Obviously, you cannot change your family history, or your natural tendency to be sensitive to sodium, or the fact that you are man or woman, black or white. But you can influence the relative impact of many of these factors. For example by making key dietary changes, many people can reduce or even eliminate their problems with hypertension.


Lots of prescription drugs help reduce high blood pressure. Diuretics flush excess fluids from your system. Beta-blockers reduce the heart rate and heart's total output of blood. Vasodilators widen your arteries and allow easier blood flow. Sympathetic nerve inhibitors also prevent blood vessels from constricting.

But drugs should be a last resort. They can cause fatigue and inhibit your sex life, among other problems. The trick is to avoid high blood pressure in the first place — and the tips below will get you started. Even if you already have mild high blood pressure, the advice could reduce your dependence on drugs and maybe even help you control things naturally.

  1. Check it: There is only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure. Have your doctor check your blood pressure. Once a year would be sufficient, unless your doctor orders more tests. It is a quick, painless procedure. The doctor puts an inflatable cuff around your arm and checks your pulse with a stethoscope. If you show a borderline high reading, the doctor may order several retests over a couple of weeks or months. The do-it-yourself blood pressure monitors in pharmacies, grocery stores and shopping malls can give you a rough estimate of your blood pressure. Some of the machines are not well calibrated and provide grossly inaccurate results. The machines are not a substitute for an annual doctor's visit.
  2. Lose it: If you are overweight, even moderate weight loss may help lower your blood pressure. In some cases, weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds may be enough to lower slightly elevated blood pressure to normal and help you avoid medication.
  3. Move it: Exercise, combined with a low-fat diet, is the best way to lose weight and keep your arteries clog free. People who do not exercise are 35 to 50 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure. Regular aerobic training can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by as much as ten points. Low intensity workouts such as
    walking are as good or better at lowering blood pressure than running or other heavy duty aerobic activities. Many experts recommend working out at least three times a
    week for 20 minutes a pop.
  4. Shake it off: Cut salt from your diet whenever you can. Most of us are eating about 2.5 times more than we should. But research shows that three-fourths of all salt we eat comes from processed foods such as cheese, soup, bread, baked goods and snacks. You have to read labels. Check for sodium content, and shoot for a daily total of 2,400 milligrams. While shopping, look for labels that say 'low sodium'. That means the product contains no more than 140 milligram of sodium per serving. Almost every fruit and vegetable is naturally low in sodium. Be careful when you eat out, too. You will be surprised how fast sodium can add up. A hamburger from your favorite fast food restaurant, for instance, may give you almost a half day's quota.
  5. Power up on potassium: Studies have shown that eating 3,500 milligrams of potassium can help counteract sodium and keep blood volume and blood pressure down. And it is easy to get enough. A baked potato packs 838 milligrams of potassium all by itself, and one cup of spinach has 800 milligrams. Other potassium packed-foods include bananas, orange juice, corn, cabbage and broccoli. Check with your doctor before taking potassium supplements. Too much may aggravate kidney problems.
  6. Meet your magnesium needs: Researchers seem to have found a link between low magnesium intake and high blood pressure. But just how much magnesium you need to combat high blood pressure remains unclear. Your best bet is to get the recommended dietary allowance of about 350 milligrams. Good sources of magnesium include nuts, spinach, lima beans and seafood. But do not overdo it by taking supplements for too much magnesium can give a nasty case of diarrhoea.
  7. Keep your calcium: The link between calcium intake and blood pressure is controversial. Some studies show that extra calcium can lower blood pressure, while others show it has no effect. Calcium sources include different kinds of low-fat cheese, canned salmon, and other canned fish with bones. If you want to take calcium supplements, see your doctor, since too much calcium can also cause other problems, such as kidney stones.
  8. Fill up with fibre: A Swedish study showed that taking a seven-gram tablet of fibre each day helps lower diastolic blood pressure by five points. No one is sure why. There is almost that much of fibre in a bowl of high-fibre cereal. Drink in moderation. A little alcohol is not going to hurt. But heavy, regular consumption of alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically. For people fighting high blood pressure, three ounces of alcohol a week seems to be about the limit.
  9. Stop smoking: Smoking markedly increases the risk of developing a stroke or blood vessel damage from high blood pressure. When you smoke, it encourages your body to deposit cholesterol within your coronary arteries. This decreases the size of your vessels and forces your heart to work harder. Anyone with high blood pressure should stop smoking immediately.
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