What Are the Most Common Causes of Hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common cardiovascular problems in the world. It is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. This causes the heart to have to work harder to circulate blood through one’s blood vessels. This is potentially very dangerous, and if left unchecked, it can lead to a hardening of the arteries and increase the risk of stroke, heart attacks, aneurysms, heart failure and a many other life-threatening cardiovascular issues.

English: taking blood pressure in PE
English: taking blood pressure in PE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Normal Blood Pressure Versus Hypertension

Blood pressure tends to fluctuate over time and is generally higher during the day than at night. It can also be affected by stress, physical activity and the presence of certain drugs. However, it shouldn’t change too drastically in most people over a short period of time. A blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 is considered normal and healthy. 120 to 139 over 80 to 89 is known as pre-hypertension. Anything higher than that is considered too high and can be diagnosed as hypertension, especially if it remains that high over a period of time.

Common Causes of Hypertension

The exact cause of an individual’s hypertension is often unknown, but there are still a number of factors that can contribute to it. Here are just some of the most common reasons people may be diagnosed with hypertension.

Stress

Stress affects everybody in some way, but those who experience chronic stress due to a busy schedule can be affected by it more than others. Stress lowers levels of serotonin, the chemical that helps keep us calm. Sadly, there isn’t much that can be done for most people if they have a stressful work schedule short of not working. However, doctors have suggested that drinking a glass of milk can help boost tryptophan levels. Tryptophan is one of the building blocks of serotonin, which means that milk can actually help calm someone down.

Being Overweight

Doctors have always warned people to watch their weight for fear that their blood pressure will increase, but the effect that excess weight has on blood pressure varies from person to person. Some people can be very overweight and have normal blood pressure, while others will have their blood pressure increase drastically after gaining only a few pounds. It’s still best for anybody who suffers from hypertension or even prehypertension to watch their weight and monitor their blood pressure closely if it is prone to fluctuate.

A Lack of Exercise

Inactivity can greatly increase one’s blood pressure. Regular exercise helps open up blood vessels and keeps blood pressure at normal levels. Doctors recommend that the average adult gets 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week.

Genes

Those who have family members with hypertension are at a greater risk of developing the problem themselves. However, a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure doesn’t guarantee that a person will develop hypertension. Even the most damning family histories can be counteracted with regular physical activity. Still, it’s important that those who have parents with hypertension monitor their own blood pressure closely if only because they are at a greater risk of developing a problem.

Byline: Joshua Christianson is a freelance writer who focuses on health, medicine, the medical profession, wellness, fitness, exercise and other associated topics; to learn more about the medical profession check out practicalnursingonline.com.