Causes of Hypertension
High blood pressure is
sometimes referred to as 'hypertension'. In fact the two terms are often interchangeable. Sometimes it is possible
for a doctor to pinpoint the exact cause of a patient’s high blood pressure but very often, the cause or causes are
not obvious. For that reason, most of the time, high blood pressure is referred to as 'essential' or 'primary' blood pressure or 'hypertension', meaning the cause is not easy to
hypertension' is another category of high blood pressure which is evidenced in approximately
10% of individuals suffering from high blood pressure. This is when the problem is easy to pinpoint and is linked
to a particular medical condition or problem such as hormonal disorders, kidney disease or a variety of other
diseases. It may even be the result of taking specific drugs. Once the problem is diagnosed and preventative steps
are taken to correct it, the patient’s blood pressure usually returns to normal.
Causes of Hypertension - what is hypertension/blood pressure ?
Blood pressure is defined as
'the pressure of the blood against the walls of the
arteries'. Blood pressure is created as a result of two separate forces. The one force
comes about due to the action of the heart as it pumps blood throughout the circulatory system as well as
into the arteries. The pressure on the arteries causes the other force as they resist the flow of
To explain blood pressure in simple terms,
when the heart is pumping, blood is forced through the largest of the arteries and from there to and through the
smaller arteries and finally to the arterioles. It is the
job of the arterioles to either expand (in other words, dilate) or contract, and by so doing cause a change to the
level of resistance to the flow of blood.
This plays a role in both blood pressure and
the quantity of blood flow. If contraction of the arterioles occurs, then blood flow resistance increases which in
turn decreases the flow of blood and increases the level of blood pressure.
On the other hand, if the arterioles dilate
then the opposite occurs (resistance of blood flow goes down, blood flow goes up and blood pressure
Changes that occur in the inner center of
the arterioles are vital when it comes to both regulating blood flow as well as making an adequate blood pressure
determination. If the arterioles remain in a constricted state for a long period of time, hypertension (or high
blood pressure) can take place.
Causes of Hypertension - risk factors
There are a few risk factors that can
increase your chances of falling victim to hypertension. These risk factors include
family history age ethnicity
stress obesity diabetes
smoking excessive drinking
History - hypertension tends to run in families. For example, if one of
your parents has the problem then you have a one in five chance of developing it. If it applies to both your
parents, then the risk rises to one in three.
Age - your blood pressure tends to be lower when you are young and to rise, as you
grow older. Approximately half of all men and women over the age of 65 suffer from hypertension.....read more about high blood pressure in the
Ethnicity - some ethic groups seem to be more likely to develop
hypertension than others. Those most at risk include South Asians, Aboriginal Peoples (or Inuit), Black
Canadians and First Nations.
Stress - repetitive bouts of stress may play a role in the
development of hypertension although stress is not a large risk factor when compared with
others.....read more about stress and high blood
Obesity - statistics appear to indicate that excess weight has a
big impact on the development of hypertension. This is not so true for those who are only 10 to 15 pounds
overweight but it is true for those who are considered obese. Weight that piles up around the abdominal area seems
to be even worse in terms of the development of hypertension.
Diabetes - those suffering from diabetes are more likely to develop high
blood pressure than members of the general population who do not suffer from this disease.
Smoking - because smoking places a strain on the heart muscle and
affects the flow of blood, smoking is consdiered to be a factor in the onset of
Drinking - constant stress is believed to encourage unhealthy lifestyle habits. Drinking
heavily puts more strain on the heart thereby increasing blood pressure.
Causes of Hypertension and the Heart
Ensuring the blood pressure is kept at an optimal level is
important, because if it is elevated for long periods at a time then it may cause long term organ damage, stroke
and of course heart disease.
Blood pressure is measured with a
medical instrument known as a sphygmomanometer. Two measurements are derived from simple high blood pressure tests that involves no pain, just pressure applied to
the arm by a rubber cuff that serves to compress a large artery stopping blood from flowing so measurements can be
taken accurately. The two measurements are systolic pressure
and diastolic pressure.
Systolic pressure (which is the higher number of the two)
represents the blood flow pressure reading that is taken when the heart beats (or is contracting as it pumps blood)
while diastolic pressure (the lower number) is the blood pressure reading taken between individual heart beats (or
the pressure when the heart takes time to relax between each heart beat).
Blood pressure is measured by mmHg (or millimeters of
mercury). The more difficult it is for the blood to flow through the arteries, the higher will both numbers be
which is not good for the heart and the health of the patient. The blood pressure measurement always gives the
systolic pressure first and the diastolic pressure second, such as 120/80 (or 120 over 80) with 120 being the
systolic blood pressure and 80 being the diastolic.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is often described as
being 'silent' and this is referring to the fact that there are very often no overt symptoms of an underlying
Unfortunately hypertension is a very serious medical condition that can double or even sometimes triple a
person’s chances of developing, kidney disease, heart disease or a stroke.
There is only one way to be sure what your blood pressure is safe and that is to have your blood pressure
checked regularly by your doctor.
To learn more about Hypertension and the risk factors of
Hypertension you can read more at:
American Society of Hypertension, Inc. http://www.ash-us.org
Heart and Stroke
Foundation website at http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca .
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