Hypertension or high blood pressure is usually referred to as the “silent killer” because most people with it do not experience any symptoms.
Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted against the walls of the arteries as blood flows through them. If a person has high blood pressure, it means that the walls of the arteries are receiving too much pressure on a constant basis.
Usually hypertension is defined as blood pressure above 140/90, and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120.
Common causes of high blood pressure
The older you are the higher your risk of having high blood pressure as aging will inevitably affect your body’s performance in pumping blood due to the degeneration of the heart muscle cells.
The increase in blood pressure with age is mostly associated with structural changes in the arteries and especially with large artery stiffness. The reduced elasticity of the blood vessels as we age can also be caused early on by poor diet or lack of exercise.
2. Family history
If you have close family members with hypertension, your chances of developing it are significantly higher.
3. Obesity and overweight
The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
4. High salt intake
Eating too much salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water.
The result is a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to your kidneys.
5. Potassium deficiency
Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells.
If you don’t get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.
Foods rich in potassium include bananas, oranges, potatoes, peas, cooked spinach and broccoli etc
6. Tobacco use
Smoking causes the blood vessels to narrow, resulting in higher blood pressure.
Smoking also reduces the blood’s oxygen content so the heart has to pump faster in order to compensate, causing a rise in blood pressure.
7. Alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases your blood pressure.
In the long term, heavy drinking can damage your heart.
8. High fat diet
Your body uses saturated fat to make cholesterol therefore eating too much saturated fat will raise your cholesterol. Too much cholesterol in your blood causes narrowing or furring in your arteries and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Foods rich in saturated fats include fatty cuts of meat, sausages, dairy products such as butter, ghee, milk and cheese etc.
However, fats sourced from plants such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and omega oils are good for your health.
9. Mental stress
High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure
Most people with diabetes will eventually get hypertension, diabetes damages the arteries causing them to harden.
Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing hypertension than women of the same age who are not pregnant. It is the most common medical problem encountered during pregnancy, which can lead to complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
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