Before we examine the causes of high blood pressure, we must first understand what exactly it is. Put simply, the heart pumps blood through the arteries, arterioles and capillaries. This action supplies nutrients and oxygen to the organs in your body through blood flow then returns the blood to the heart through your veins. The blood pressure is the ease of blood flow through those pathways. If the vessels are dilated and wide open, then the blood flows through them easily but if they are contracted, it is more difficult for the blood to make its way through the narrow openings. This creates an increase in pressure, thus high blood pressure may occur.
Unfortunately for the majority of people with HBP problems, up to 95%, do not know the cause. This is typically referred to as primary hypertension. The remaining 5% fall into the secondary hypertension category. Secondary hypertension can be caused by kidney abnormalities, aortic abnormalities, and the narrowing of some arteries. Secondary hypertension is more easily diagnosed with a thorough physical examination and testing. Primary hypertension on the other hand can have many causes. The risk factors include:
Age: The risks increase as we age.
Sex: Of those diagnosed with high blood pressure, men are usually diagnosed the most up to age 45. After age 54, women have a greater likelihood of receiving an HBP diagnosis.
Ethnicity: African and Native Americans have extremely high rates of high blood pressure diagnosis.
Diet: Those who regularly ingest high levels of salt in their foods are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Family History: Those who have direct family members with this problem are also more likely to develop primary hypertension.
Stress: People with high stress levels and anxiety are at higher risk for developing HBP. Lack of Physical Activity: Those with an inactive lifestyle are at risk for high blood pressure due to lack of exercise and a general tendency toward obesity.
Alcohol: More than two drinks per day can cause an increase in blood pressure.
These risk factors may occur separately or in any combination to cause hypertension.
While the cause of hypertension is often undetermined, there are lifestyle changes that can be made to decrease your risk for developing high blood pressure or reducing your current blood pressure. First and foremost, reduce sodium intake by cutting out salt in cooking. Also, be a label reader. Many prepackaged foods contain extremely high levels of sodium. Choose products low in sodium and high in nutrients like protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Also choose foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Maintaining a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables will boost your overall heart health by reducing both your blood pressure and your cholesterol.
In addition to an improved diet, increase your physical activity. Many people with high blood pressure are also obese due to poor diet choices and lack of exercise. It is important to get some form of exercise every day, whether it’s a walk around the block or a 10k run. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to exercising so don’t be discouraged. It will be hard at first but once you get into a routine, you will find there are many fun ways to get yourself moving. Also, keep in mind that, with exercise, weight management will come more naturally, thus improving your overall health and quality of life.
For those who cannot control their hypertension with these lifestyle changes, there are various prescription alternatives you may wish to consider with your physician. These include:
Vasodilators cause the muscles in the blood vessel walls to relax so the walls may widen, allowing for easier blood flow.
Beta Blockers reduce the heart rate in turn reducing the amount of blood pumping through blood vessels.
ACE Inhibitors reduce the body’s production of angiotensin II which causes blood vessels to constrict.
Because high blood pressure often has no definitive symptoms, it is important to have it checked regularly to reduce as much of your risk as possible. Left untreated, it can lead to serious damage to your heart, brain and other organs of the body often resulting in heart attack or stroke.
Jim Riggs is an authority in the fitness, nutrition and supplement industries. With more than twenty years of experience training everyone from soccer moms, to NFL Athletes, to Olympic gold medalists he has seen it all. Jim has a unique understanding, style and passion toward everything fitness. As a contributing writer for http://www.i-supplements.com Jim brings this uniqueness to the supplement world through no nonsense product review and hard hitting commentary.