8 Causes of High Blood Pressure

More than 108 million American adults have high blood pressure. When uncontrolled, this condition, also called hypertension, can cause serious complications and even become a primary or contributing cause of death. 

The medical community calls high blood pressure a “silent killer,” because it rarely triggers any noticeable symptoms, yet it causes serious damage. This makes it especially important to have regular blood pressure checks by your physician at your annual physical

At Integrative Primary Care in Houston, internists Syed Farhat Zaidi, MD, and Saba Jafri, MD, specialize in diagnosing high blood pressure and helping patients effectively manage their condition and take charge of their heart health. Here’s a look at eight common risk factors that can contribute to high blood pressure: 

1. Being overweight or obese

If you’re one of the millions of American who are overweight or obese, your chances of developing high blood pressure increase dramatcially, regardless of age, with some studies showing a 40% or more increase in risk

2. Not living an active lifestyle

The more sedentary you are, the more likely you’ll be to develop high blood pressure. This is because when you don’t exercise, your heart — the largest muscle in your body — gets weaker. The weaker your heart is, the harder it will be for it to pump blood throughout your body.

3. Getting older

Unfortunately, your risk for developing hypertension increases as you get older. About 77% of men and 75% of women over age 65 have high blood pressure. For men, the chances of developing hypertension begin around age 45, while for women the risk increases beginning at age 55.  

4. Having a diet high in sodium

Most Americans consume too much sodium. Eating processed foods and animal products contributes to Americans eating more than double the recommended allowance for sodium. Unfortunately, high-sodium diets are closely linked to high blood pressure. 

5. Not consuming enough potassium

Potassium helps muscles, such as your heart, function well, and it keeps the walls of your blood vessels relaxed, which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, Americans generally have diets that are high in processed foods and animal products and low in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans. Because of this, many Americans consume less than half of the potassium needed for a healthy heart and blood pressure. 

6. Managing stress poorly

Stress triggers the release of hormones that put your body into what’s often referred to as a “flight or fight” mode. These hormones increase your blood pressure, and when stress becomes chronic, the result can be hypertension and other damage to your health. 

7. Genetic makeup

Unfortunately, ethnicity plays a role in the occurrence of hypertension. Non-Hispanic black adults are more likely than people of other races to develop high blood pressure, with black women over age 65 having the highest incidence.

8. Having a family history of hypertension

If you have a family history of hypertension, you’re at a higher risk of developing the condition. While researchers haven’t found the exact link, it does appear that people who have family members with hypertension have a higher chance of developing it themselves.

What can I do if I have high blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, it’s important to get your hypertension under control. Untreated high blood pressure is linked to serious medical conditions, such as stroke and heart disease. 

Be sure to have your blood pressure evaluated at your wellness exam every year, so your provider at Integrative Primary Care can track any changes. Our team uses a holistic, integrated treatment approach. If we diagnose you with high blood pressure, we may recommend a number of options, including the following:

Our providers will monitor how your blood pressure and heart respond to different treatments and will make changes as needed to ensure your well-being.

If you’re concerned about high blood pressure, don’t wait to seek medical help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Integrative Primary Care today.

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