5 Causes of Hypertension

5 Causes of Hypertension

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a major health concern. While your blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, it can cause serious health problems if it remains high for too long. 

In 2018, hypertension was a primary or contributing cause of death for almost a half million Americans, and only 24% of those living with hypertension have it under control. 

At Advanced Cardiac Care, board-certified cardiologist Dr. Michael Avaricio and our staff understand the insidious nature of this silent killer. We offer blood pressure screening and customized cardiac treatment to prevent hypertension from causing serious problems.

Among those serious problems are:

It’s because hypertension rarely causes symptoms that we want our patients to understand the major causes, so you know when to seek medical help.

What is blood pressure, and how is it measured?

Your arteries are the conduits that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Blood pressure is a measure of how much force the blood places on your arteries’ walls. 

Blood pressure readings are reported as two numbers, one over the other. The upper number is your systolic pressure, the pressure against the walls when the heart beats. The lower number is your diastolic pressure, the pressure against the walls when the heart rests between beats. A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 in a healthy adult.

Hypertension (readings above these numbers) means your heart has to work beyond its capacity. Not only can that damage the blood vessels, but it can also damage your brain, eyes, and kidneys.

Types of hypertension

There are two different types of hypertension.

Primary hypertension

In most cases, there's no identifiable cause of elevated blood pressure. Primary, also called essential, hypertension usually develops gradually over time.

Secondary hypertension

Secondary hypertension is the result of an underlying condition, such as obstructive sleep apnea, kidney disease, adrenal tumors, thyroid problems, and some medications and illicit drugs. This form tends to appear suddenly and causes higher readings than primary hypertension does.

Causes of hypertension

Most causes of hypertension can be traced to lifestyle factors. Here are five.

Being overweight or obese

The heavier you are, the more blood you need to supply your tissues with oxygen and other nutrients. Increased blood volume leads to increased pressure on the artery walls, which can become damaged over time. 

Extra weight also puts an extra strain on your heart, which has to pump harder.

Not being physically active

People who lead a sedentary life often have higher heart rates. The higher the rate, the harder your heart must pump with each contraction, and the stronger the resulting force is on your arteries. 

Lack of exercise also increases the risk of being overweight, putting you in double jeopardy.

Using tobacco

Smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco all raise your blood pressure immediately, though temporarily. But the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your arteries, causing them to narrow and harden (atherosclerosis). Your heart has to pump harder to push the blood through. Secondhand smoke also increases your risk.

Having too much sodium in your diet and too little potassium

Too much sodium (table salt) in your diet causes your body to retain fluid, and the added volume increases your blood pressure. Potassium is another salt that helps balance the concentration of sodium in your cells. Too little potassium leads to a buildup of sodium.

Undergoing too much stress

When you’re stressed, your body produces a surge of hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase your blood pressure temporarily by making the heart beat faster while your blood vessels narrow. 

In the short-term that’s not a problem, but if you’re chronically stressed, your blood pressure can increase over time.

In addition, many of our patients react to stress in unhealthy ways, including smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating high-fat, high-cholesterol, and high-calorie foods, all of which increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.

Do you know your blood pressure numbers? How long has it been since you had your blood pressure checked? If you don’t know the answers, it’s time to visit us at Advanced Cardiac Care in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, New York, for a blood pressure test and heart and vascular screening. Contact us today to book an appointment.

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