Hypertension Causes and Risks


Primary (aka essential) hypertension has no known cause, however there are a number of lifestyle factors which do seem to effect the chances of developing hypertension.

Risk factors may be related to the environment, genetics and family history, smoking, diet, hormones, how much sodium (salt) you have in your diet or even the level of stress in your life.

Hypertension also increases your risk of having a stroke or heart attack, and can lead to other diseases as well as make other health conditions even worse. It is important to your health and your future to learn about the risk factors and by controlling and altering what you have control over you can change you decrease your risks.

? Exposure to environmental pollutants, such as tobacco smoke, vapors around the office, etc.

? Obesity – being over weight is a factor in hypertension, especially as one ages. Proper diet and weight loss may aid in reversing the associated problems.

? Lack of exercise – Daily ‘aerobic’ exercise (walking, swimming, running, cycling, etc.) can be very beneficial in decreasing blood pressure, as well as helping with your weight .

? Stress – we could all benefit from a little less of this. Exercise also helps with reducing your stress.

? Lower Alcohol Consumption – Drinking excessively doubles your chances of suffering high blood pressure or a stroke.

? Medicines and prescriptions (Ritalin, hormones, steroids, anti-rejection medications), your doctor and pharmacist should be intimately aware of what you are taking. Illegal drugs can also cause you problems (amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy).

? Diet – a diet high in sodium puts strain on the blood vessels by increasing the fluid volume in the body (salt attracts water)

These risks can be helped or even controlled with the help of a doctor

? Pregnancy – the extra volume of blood, plus toxemia from high dietary salt intake can put a great strain on the vascular system.

? Kidney failure – the body is unable to remove fluids from the body causing an increase in fluid volume and blood pressure.

? Right-sided Heart Failure – decreases the hearts ability to pump high volumes of fluid through the heart causing a back-up into the blood vessels

Risk Factors over which you have no control

? Family history of hypertension especially onset before the age of 50.

? Age -your increases your chances of getting hypertension

? Gender (male or female)

? Race (Afro-American)

? Nervous System disorders

Secondary Hypertension

While the single cause of Primary hypertension is not known, the cause(s) of Secondary hypertension is and it is usually caused by another condition or disease. Conditions such as arteriosclerosis, diabetes, kidney disease, or even from medications and pregnancy (Gestational hypertension and is one of the reasons your doctor wants to see you more frequently near the end).

Hypertension can be caused either by taking medications or by stopping medications too quickly. Medications such as corticosteroids, birth control pills and other hormones, migraine medications, and medications used for chronic anemia (erythropoieten). Also a number of over-the-counter medications such as cough/cold medications and medications for asthma can cause hypertension.

Medications for hypertension can also cause a rebound hypertension if they are not weaned off of slowly.

Street drugs that can cause hypertension include: alcohol, amphetamines, ecstasy (MDMA and derivatives), and cocaine.

A small number of people experience malignant hypertension. This is an extremely high blood pressure that causes swelling of the optic nerve (the nerve that control vision). This is considered a medical emergency. Many of your vital organs are in serious risk of injury including your brain, your eyes, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys.