High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is unfortunately all too common for American adults. Blood pressure is a measure of the amount of force exerted against the walls of the arteries as blood flows through them. If your blood pressure is high, you may be at an increased risk of several serious health problems including heart failure, vision loss, stroke, and kidney disease. According to statistics from the American Heart Association (AHA), about 85 million adults (roughly one third of all adults over 20) in the US are living with high blood pressure. People over the age of 65 are even more susceptible to high blood pressure. But what causes such a common medical condition? We will highlight a couple of the leading causes of high blood pressure to help guide our patients to healthier lifestyle choices that can make a difference in the fight against hypertension.
Essential hypertension describes cases of high blood pressure where the primary cause of your condition cannot be found. About 95% of high blood pressure cases in the US fall under this category. Although the exact cause may remain undetermined, there are several common risk factors that are confirmed to increase someone’s chances of developing high blood pressure. A family history of high blood pressure is a definite risk factor. African American adults are twice as likely as Caucasian adults to have high blood pressure. Not getting enough sleep can also contribute to high blood pressure. Being overweight or obese, or eating a diet that is high in salt and sodium have been linked to hypertension. Many people with high blood pressure are “salt sensitive.” This means that consuming anything that increases sodium levels above the minimum amount the body needs will increase their blood pressure. Smoking and other forms of nicotine can also increase your blood pressure.
Secondary hypertension describes cases where a direct cause for high blood pressure can be identified. The most common causes of secondary hypertension include kidney disease, tumors or other abnormalities that affect the adrenal glands (small glands that sit atop the kidneys), taking certain birth control pills, and pregnancy.
The first step towards treating and improving your high blood pressure is discussing your condition with one of our experienced family healthcare providers. Once we have established the probable cause of your high blood pressure, we will work with you to determine the best-possible treatment plan to improve your blood pressure and keep you feeling your best for many years to come. For more information on high blood pressure or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare providers today, please contact Family Practice Center. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional health tips, news, and so much more.