High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be caused by a variety of different factors. People who suffer from high blood pressure need to monitor their condition carefully and work to reduce it to try to relieve stress on their hearts in order to avoid heart disease and stroke. However, in order to try to avoid high blood pressure, it is important to know what causes it in the first place.
1. It can be hereditary
Although it does not mean you will have high blood pressure just because your mother, father, or grandparents had it, it does mean you need to be more cautious about the lifestyle you lead. Combined with an unhealthy lifestyle – namely little to no exercise and poor eating habits – people with high blood pressure in their family are significantly more likely to develop it themselves.
2. Lack of physical activity
Low levels of physical activity can be a large contributor to hypertension. Luckily, increasing physical activity can help to lower blood pressure. It is important for individuals with high blood pressure to remain active in an effort to strengthen their hearts, and it is important for individuals at risk (or anybody for that matter) to keep an active lifestyle – approximately 20 minutes per day – in an effort to avoid developing hypertension.
3. Chronic kidney disease
With chronic kidney disease (CKD), the kidneys do not effectively remove waste and extra fluid from the body which can cause high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also cause chronic kidney disease to worsen, so it is important that individuals who do develop hypertension as a result of CKD work to manage it before this vicious cycle can occur.
Alcohol is one of the main causes of high blood pressure. Binge drinking increases blood pressure temporarily, however over time the effects can become more permanent. The recommended intake of alcohol is one drink per day for women and two per day for men. People who stick to these limits fairly consistently can reduce their chances of developing hypertension, or at the very least, slow down the rate at which the hypertension develops.
High levels of sodium cause the kidneys to store more water than they should, which causes higher blood pressure. Working to eat appropriate levels of sodium on a regular basis can help keep high blood pressure at bay, however it can be a difficult task. On average, Canadians eat between 2500 and 3000 mg of sodium per day – that’s double to triple the recommended dose of 1000 to 1500 mg. This is because many of the easiest foods to find are processed, and processed foods use a ton of sodium to allow them preserve longer. Whole foods with no added salt are the way to go.
6. Sleep apnea
People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of developing hypertension because of the loss of oxygen levels caused by the condition during sleep. Although there are treatments for high blood pressure that can be used, it is a good idea to seek treatment for the root of the cause – in this case the sleep apnea – which could also aid in lowering blood pressure levels.
There are a couple of different reasons why obesity causes high blood pressure. First, all of the factors that are commonly involved in obesity – poor diet, high sodium levels, and low amounts of exercise – all make the heart work harder. As well, simply having the extra weight adds pressure on the heart, making it work harder still. Furthermore, obesity often causes type 2 diabetes, which is also known to increase blood pressure.
8. Poor diet
A diet that is high in fat and sugars is a big contributor to high blood pressure, especially because these diets are usually void of important nutrients and natural compounds that lower blood pressure like calcium, potassium, flavonoids, and nitric oxide.
9. Diabetes (both type 1 and 2)
Diabetes is when a person’s body either does not produce enough insulin to process sugars, or their body is effectively resistant to the insulin – their insulin doesn’t work, which means their blood sugar is uncontrolled. Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause damage to the organs and blood vessels, and if it does, this is where the person could develop high blood pressure as a result. The combination of these two conditions can cause further complications in the body like kidney disease, heart disease, and other problems.
10. Nothing (aka. primary/essential hypertension)
Unfortunately, adults can often develop primary or essential hypertension which has no definite cause. It develops as adults get older, and generally starts out as a minor condition and develops into a more serious condition over time. This can be controlled with medication but it is chronic, and therefore cannot be cured. Although it is not associated with any one cause, it is more likely that adults who partake in unhealthy habits will develop hypertension.