First, I’d like to start with, if you don’t already know, the main classification of high blood pressure into two main categories: essential and secondary hypertension.
Essential hypertension: the underlying cause can’t be determined (it isn’t caused by another disease) – it’s just present. This is usually prevalent in individuals in which hypertension runs through the family, as well as being attributed to lifestyle habits and choices.
Secondary hypertension: This is where the underlying cause can be determined. This is where high blood pressure is, literally, secondary to a primary cause. For instance, it may be the result of kidney disease, the growth of a malignant tumor, sleep apnea or even an adrenal gland abnormality (these glands secrete hormones which directly affect blood pressure).
For the purposes of our discussion, we’re sticking to causes of essential hypertension, since there’s not much we can do about secondary hypertension. And you’ll soon find out that there are also some factors that we can’t control, but for those that we can control, let’s have a look at what we can do to reduce our chances to catch high blood pressure.
As another interesting fact, all of these below causes can be attributed to increasing blood pressure via one of these following three mechanisms: the narrowing of the arteries, the increase in speed of blood pumping through our blood vessels, and the increase in the volume of blood pumping through our vessels.
Just thought that was worth mentioning.
Anyway, here’s the top 6 causes of high blood pressure, in a nutshell.
- Aging: As we age, our blood pressure goes higher. This is due to our heart walls thickening and becoming stiffer as a result of the many years of continuous, incessant use. Our hearts must therefore pump harder to get the same volume of blood to different parts of the body.
- Intake of harmful substances: Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, tar are all substances which increase blood pressure. The idea is to reduce the intake of these substances, if not eliminate them entirety.
- Genetics: As we’ve mentioned, hypertension tends to run through the family. If your parents or grandparents have it, you’re likely to have it as well. There isn’t anything we can do about it, unfortunately.
- Excessive sodium intake: We’re talking about a diet that’s heavy on the sodium here. In general, we’re referring to fast food diets, cup noodles, pizzas – foods like that on a regular basis.
- Birth control pills (oral contraceptives): In these pills reside a hormone called progesterone, which, through a complicated series of biochemical mechanisms, can increase blood pressure, anywhere from mildly to drastically.
- Inactivity: Most modern day office jobs are sedentary in nature – they involve a lot of sitting and not very much moving around. If that’s the case with you, you must seek to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Exercising strengthens your heart’s capability to pump blood around your body efficiently, which means that it takes less effort to pump the same volume of blood around your body compared to not regularly exercising, which has the overall net result of lowering your blood pressure.
Well, there you have it, the six factors which cause high blood pressure. While there are factors that are out of our control, the ones which are directly tied in to our lifestyles – we have perfect control over. By using this as a starting point, we can make quality changes to our lifestyle, as discussed in a previous post, to lower our overall blood pressure, and, really, lead a healthier, thus, more fulfilling life.