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7 Causes and Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure

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Why do people have high blood pressure?

This condition stems from a variety of reasons, and it’s not always just because of what you eat or drink.

young asian woman with a bowl of soup noodles
There Are Many Causes of High Blood Pressure

Knowing the cause is an important step to helping you formulate an effective plan to improve your high blood pressure. You can also provide valuable information for your doctor to help you better manage it as well.

Stay close as we explore the various causes of high blood pressure!

Why Is My Blood Pressure High All of a Sudden?

A sudden spike in blood pressure may be scary, but in many cases, it can also be normal.

Some possible reasons include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Medication (single or a combination)
  • Caffeine
  • White coat effect (the fear you feel when you see medical professionals like doctors)

Should I Lie Down If My Blood Pressure Is High?

Before you rush to lie down after getting a high blood pressure reading, think about any condition you may have that might raise your blood pressure.

If you have a medical problem that does affect your blood pressure, simply lying down may be insufficient to reduce it.

If you don’t, lying down and taking deep breaths may help to lower your blood pressure. Be as calm and relaxed as possible and your blood pressure will gradually go down.

Common Causes and Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure

Let’s take a closer look at some common causes and risk factors of high blood pressure.

An Unhealthy Diet

You are what you eat.

Stuffing your face with greasy fries, burgers, pizza, chips, ice cream, and cola is a great way to develop high blood pressure.

long fries street food in taiwan
A Diet High in Salt, Sugar, and Fat Increases the Risk of High Blood Pressure

When you eat foods that are high in sodium, your body keeps more fluids that can increase the volume of your blood and your blood pressure. Eating foods high in sugar and unsaturated fat can also cause the same results,

Even your favourite piece of beef tenderloin or lamb shank can lead to a rise in blood pressure.

Do Bananas Lower Blood Pressure?

Eating bananas can help to lower your blood pressure because they are rich in potassium.

Potassium is a critical mineral that can help to reduce blood pressure.

What Foods Raise Blood Pressure?

Here are some blood pressure-elevating foods to avoid:

  • Salad dressing
  • Fast food
  • Sugary food (sweets, chocolates, biscuits)
  • Fried food (Fries, nuggets)
  • Processed food (bacon, luncheon meat, ham, pizza)
  • Red meat (Beef, mutton, pork, veal)
  • Canned soup
  • Fatty meat
  • Butter and margarine

Unhealthy Lifestyle

Does your bed call out to you every time you reach home after doing overtime at work, where you also sit the entire day?

If exercise means a trip to the fridge to grab some frozen nuggets to microwave, it’s time to rethink your sedentary lifestyle.

young asian woman lounging on a sofa with a laptop
An Unhealthy Lifestyle Raises the Risk of High Blood Pressure

An unhealthy lifestyle increases your chances of developing high blood pressure, so set aside some time on a regular basis to exercise and avoid sitting down for long.

Does Walking Reduce Blood Pressure?

Yes, walking does reduce blood pressure, and you may experience its effects almost immediately after your walk.

Walking regularly can also help to reduce blood pressure over the long-term and improve your high blood pressure.

Family History

Like some other health conditions, your family history may also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.

If you have several close family members who have high blood pressure before turning 60, it also increases your risk of having it twofold.

elderly grandmother with 3 grandchildren in the sea
Your Family History Influences Your Risk of High Blood Pressure

Your genes are also likely to play a role as well.

Chronic Conditions

There are some chronic conditions that may increase your likelihood of having high blood pressure.

young woman in bed
Chronic Conditions Like Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Risk of High Blood Pressure

They include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Kidney disease
  • Adrenal gland tumours
  • Thyroid problems
  • Congenital birth defects in the blood vessels

Excessive Stress

If your stress levels have been hitting the roof for a long time, it may pose a health danger to you in many ways, including increasing your blood pressure.

young woman crouching over
High Levels of Stress Can Increase Your Risk of High Blood Pressure

In addition, being overly stressed can also cause binge smoking or drinking that can further exacerbate your high blood pressure.

Obesity

Obesity is not body positivity – it’s unhealthy.

When you’re overweight, your heart needs to work extra harder to pump enough blood to the rest of your body.

However, this strains your arteries, potentially causing them to resist the blood flow and increase your blood pressure.

young guy smiling with a drink in hand
Being Overweight Increases Your Risk of High Blood Pressure

Plus, obesity also raises your risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes, which is also a risk factor for high blood pressure.

Medication

Some medical substances and medicines can lead to high blood pressure. This is because they may cause you to retain fluid and therefore cause kidney problems.

Some of them are:

  • Ibuprofen (similar to paracetamol, except that it also reduces inflammation)
  • Indomethacin (anti-inflammatory drug to relieve pain and fever)
  • Piroxicam (anti-inflammatory drug to relieve pain and swelling and conditions like arthritis)
  • Cold medicines (narrow blood vessels and causes high blood pressure)
  • Antidepressants
  • Hormonal birth control

Causes and Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure in Different Groups of People

Now that you have an idea of the things that cause and influence high blood pressure, you can gain a deeper understanding knowing how they apply to each group of people.

Causes and Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure in the Elderly and in Old Age

Age is a key factor that influences the risk of high blood pressure.

As you age, your arteries start to stiffen, which makes your blood pressure go up. This applies even to people who have healthy lifestyle habits and don’t notice any problem.

Therefore, age-induced arterial stiffening is one main cause of high blood pressure in adults and the elderly, in men and in women.

elderly asian man sitting on a char
Age Is a Big Factor in Influencing High Blood Pressure

Very often, older adults have a higher systolic (upper number) reading with a lower diastolic (lower number) result. This signifies a condition called isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) caused by age-related stiffening of key arteries.

ISH is the most prevalent type of high blood pressure in older adults. It can cause severe health problems like:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Shortness of breath during light physical activity
  • Lightheadedness
  • Falls and trips

Apart from age, other common causes of high blood pressure are kidney disease and diabetes.

blood glucose lancets
Diabetes Can Increase the Potential of Developing High Blood Pressure

Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes high blood sugar. Diabetics usually monitor their blood glucose levels regularly to manage their condition with a blood glucose monitor.

They may also need to manage their diet carefully by consuming specially manufactured liquid milk meal replacements like the Glucerna Triple Care Liquid.

It is the main cause of high blood pressure in adults of all ages. If you are diabetic, you are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure. The elderly with diabetes need to control their condition to reduce the risk of suffering from high blood pressure.

Your kidneys have a 2-way relationship with your blood pressure. On one hand, kidney disease narrows, weakens, and harms arteries, while high blood pressure damages your kidneys.

People with kidney disease may need to look for milk liquid products that are specially formulated for them, like Novasource Renal.

Causes and Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure in Young Adults and Teenagers

High blood pressure isn’t just found in the elderly, but in young adults and teenagers, like teenage males or females, as well.

In fact, hypertension is common among young people, and is most likely to rise accordingly with lifestyle behaviour.

Most of the time, medical professionals are alert in treating this condition in the middle-aged and the elderly, but it’s not always the same with younger people.

young asian woman posing
Young People Can Also Have High Blood Pressure

This may be due to a stereotype that people have, assuming that young individuals are less likely to have diseases like hypertension.

However, this has changed due to higher rates of traditional risk factors appearing in children, those with a young age, or young adults. This includes:

  • Diabetes
  • Renal (kidney) disease
  • Obesity

These risk factors boost the risk of developing high blood pressure in these groups of people.

A significant study conducted by Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin assessed high blood pressure in young adults. It suggested that young individuals with ISH have a greater risk of future artery stiffening.

This risk is connected to a higher risk of stroke, as well as kidney and brain damage.

Remember that hypertension is characterised by blood pressure readings that are 140/90 or higher, or 130/80 if taken at home.

When ISH happens, it causes a high systolic (top number) with a normal diastolic (bottom number) reading. Young adults with this condition, even athletes, should have regular follow-ups and visits to their doctors to determine if it needs treatment.

It is also important to note that higher blood pressure during the early years is linked to heart and brain abnormalities, as well as an increased risk of heart-related events by middle-age.

Causes of High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

pregnant lady holding her belly
Pregnancy May Cause High Blood Pressure

Pregnant?

You might be one of some women who have high blood pressure during pregnancy. This occurrence has become more common over the years.

Being pregnant and having high blood pressure increases both yours and your baby’s risk for problems. These problems can happen during pregnancy, during, and after delivery.

What Are the Complications of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?

There are a few complications that may happen for pregnant mothers with high blood pressure.

They are classified here:

Complications of High Blood Pressure for Pregnant Mothers

  • Stroke
  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure and symptoms of liver or kidney damage after 20th week of pregnancy)
  • Eclampsia (seizures or coma in women with preeclampsia)
  • Labour induction (having to use medicine to begin the labour and birth process)
  • Placenta abruption (placenta separating from uterus wall)

Complications of High Blood Pressure for Babies

yawning infant with mother
High Blood Pressure Can Cause Complications for Babies
  • Low birth weight
  • Pre-term delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy (high blood pressure makes it hard for the baby to get sufficient oxygen and nutrients for growth)

What Are the Types of High Blood Pressure Conditions for Pregnant Women?

High blood pressure in pregnant women can be categorised depending on which stage it occurs at.

Chronic Hypertension: Before Pregnancy

Chronic hypertension refers to high blood pressure before pregnancy, or before you hit the 20th week of pregnancy.

This condition may cause pre-eclampsia when you reach your second or last trimester.

Gestational Hypertension: During Pregnancy

Gestational hypertension refers to high blood pressure during your pregnancy. Usually, these pregnant mothers do not have protein in their urine, heart, or kidney issues.

It is a condition that is typically diagnosed after your 20th week of pregnancy, or when you are close to giving birth.

Usually, the condition goes away by itself after delivery, but it may raise the risk of having chronic hypertension in the future.

Preeclampsia/Eclampsia

If you’re a pregnant woman who has always had regular blood pressure but suddenly has high blood pressure and protein in your urine after your 20th week of pregnancy, it is likely to be preeclampsia.

You may be at risk of developing eclampsia as well, which is an emergency.

Symptoms of Pre-eclampsia

woman holding her belly and weighing scale
Spot the Signs of Preeclampsia

Here are some signs of preeclampsia to spot:

  • Persistent headache that does not improve
  • Blurry vision, seeing spots, or eyesight changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Face or hands swelling
  • Pain in the upper abdomen

Risk Factors of Preeclampsia

Some factors put you at greater risk of preeclampsia.

They are:

  • Preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy
  • Pregnancy through IVF
  • Presence of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
  • First pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • Older than 40
  • You have lupus, an autoimmune disease
  • Pregnant with more than 1 baby (twins or triplets or quadruplets)
  • You have chronic hypertension, kidney disease, or both
  • You have a history of thrombophilia, a condition that increases your risk of blood clots

Postpartum Preeclampsia

In some cases, preeclampsia can happen after you deliver.

It can happen even if you have no history of preeclampsia during pregnancy. Its symptoms are similar to that of preeclampsia.

young baby feet
Preeclampsia Can Happen After Giving Birth

How Can I Bring Down My Blood Pressure Immediately?

While it’s unlikely that you can reduce your blood pressure instantly, there are ways to lower it over time.

They are:

  • Implementing healthy lifestyle changes like eating healthily
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing alcohol and/or tobacco intake
  • Reducing caffeine intake

Find out more on natural ways to reduce your blood pressure!

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