High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects an estimated 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. or 68 million, and in most cases, the condition does not appear to have a direct cause. [“High Blood Pressure Facts and Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.] However, children can also develop the disease.
Doctors are unable to identify the direct cause of hypertension in as many as 95 percent of reported cases in the U.S. These cases are referred to as essential hypertension. The small percentage of cases in which doctors can determine a direct underlying cause are called secondary hypertension. Kidney disease and pregnancy are common causes of secondary hypertension. While pinpointing an immediate trigger for essential hypertension may be difficult, healthcare experts have identified a number of risk factors, which increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
Diet and Exercise
A diet that is low in nutrients and high in calories, sodium and fat can lead to hypertension. Potassium deficiency can also trigger the condition. When combined with the lack of exercise, the poor diet can lead to weight gain and obesity, which is also a risk factor for high blood pressure. Excessive alcohol consumption and Tobacco use are also risk factors. You can reduce your risk of developing hypertension by maintaining a healthy tobacco-free lifestyle that consists of eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol consumption.
Like other genetic traits, the likelihood of developing hypertension can also be inherited from parents and passed down to children. If high blood pressure runs in your family, it is especially important to reduce other risk factors by making healthy lifestyle choices.
As you age, your risk of developing hypertension may increase as blood vessels become less flexible, thereby adding to the importance maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you get older.
“CDC – DHDSP – High Blood Pressure Facts and Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts_statistics.htm
“CDC – DHDSP – About High Blood Pressure.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm
“High Blood Pressure or Hypertension.” www.heart.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/High-Blood-Pressure-or-Hypertension_UCM_002020_SubHomePage.jsp
“Causes of High Blood Pressure: Weight, Diet, Age, and More.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/blood-pressure-causes