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The Top Causes of High Blood Pressure

The Top Causes of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects nearly half of the general population — an estimated 116 million Americans

While that statistic may seem surprising, what's particularly remarkable about this serious medical condition is that for many sufferers it has no noticeable symptoms. About one-third of the people who have high blood pressure don’t even know it, which explains its nickname, the silent killer.

When it comes to pinpointing causes of high blood pressure, the conversation is more about risk factors for developing high blood pressure than specific causes. In fact, for a vast majority of cases of high blood pressure — about 95% — a specific underlying cause can't be found.

The good news: Our skilled team of health professionals at Formé Medical Center in White Plains, New York, knows the lifestyle issues and associated medical conditions that make one person more likely to develop high blood pressure than someone else. 

In this blog, we’ll share our insights on the lead indicators of developing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure explained

A blood pressure reading is a very common vital sign screening that you’ll experience hundreds of times over the course of your life. But when your provider straps on that blood pressure cuff, do you ever wonder what’s actually being measured?

Blood pressure is all about how hard your heart has to work to pump nutrient-rich blood throughout your body to make your cells and organs operate optimally. 

Specifically, blood pressure measures the force or pressure of the circulating blood within your arteries and veins. If that force of blood on the walls of your veins or arteries is consistently too high, you have high blood pressure.

The actual readings for high blood pressure are a top number (systolic pressure) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher or a bottom number (diastolic pressure) of 80 mm Hg or higher. The sheer numbers aren’t the most important takeaway though. Over time, if left uncontrolled, high blood pressure results in damage to blood vessels as well as potentially life-threatening medical conditions like heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

Genetics and family medical history

Like many medical conditions, high blood pressure tends to run in families. Make sure you share a thorough family medical history with all your health care providers so they can keep it on their radar and monitor you appropriately. 

It’s important to note that just because family members have high blood pressure, it’s not a done deal that you’ll have it as well. There are numerous lifestyle risk factors and other medical conditions that when combined with heredity can greatly increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious medical condition where your blood sugar doesn’t metabolize properly, increasing your risk of developing heart disease. An estimated 6 out of 10 diabetics also have high blood pressure. 

Poor diet

When it comes to lifestyle factors associated with high blood pressure, poor nutrition ranks up there. Often the culprit is eating too many salty, processed foods and not enough healthy foods. 

Eating a well-balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, lean meats, poultry, and fish, as well as whole grains and heart-healthy nuts and foods rich in potassium will not only fuel your body but may also stave off high blood pressure. 

Sedentary lifestyle

High blood pressure is often associated with sedentary lifestyles. Taking daily walks or engaging in regular physical activity does wonders for keeping your heart and cardiovascular system healthy and fighting off high blood pressure. 

If you don’t exercise regularly now, ask your doctor for recommendations for exercise programs best for you. It’s never too late to get active and keep moving.

Being overweight or obese

Since eating poorly and not getting enough exercise are key risk factors for developing high blood pressure, it’s not surprising that being overweight or obese also factors into developing high blood pressure. When you’re carrying extra body mass, you automatically make your heart work harder to pump blood which, in turn, raises your blood pressure. 

Tobacco and excessive alcohol use

Both tobacco and excessive alcohol use may raise your blood pressure. While you probably know that smoking can cause cancer and damage your lungs, it can damage your blood vessels and heart as well. 

Nicotine in and of itself raises blood pressure, and the carbon monoxide curtails the actual amount of oxygen your blood can carry, making the whole process of getting oxygenated blood to your organs much less efficient.

If you are concerned about your blood pressure, don’t wait to schedule a screening. Call our office or request an appointment online today.

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