You can find a lot of varying information about what causes high blood pressure, but there is one thing that remains consistent across the board: there is a strong genetic component to hypertension. That means that if you are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure, chances are that you will experience it as well. In other words, if you think that your mother and grandmother had high blood pressure, there is a good chance that you will as well. The truth is, that hereditary factors account for about 70 percent of all cases of hypertension.
So what causes high blood pressure? There are two major contributing factors. The first is excess body weight. When we overeat, our bodies do not have the energy to work at full force, so they give up some of their nutrients in the form of fat stores. As a result, we gain weight, and the extra poundage adds up over time.
The second main cause of hypertension is poor dietary habits. Foods like salt and fatty foods are commonly associated with increased blood pressure, because they block the arteries leading to the heart. While many people argue that a low-fat diet is healthy for everyone, the evidence does not support that claim – and it may even be harmful.
One of the primary triggers for high blood pressure is stress. In today’s world, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about money, family life or other pressing matters. When we are stressed, our body releases a hormone called cortisol, which causes our blood pressure to increase. In order to combat the effects of cortisol, our body kicks up the production of adrenalin. Unfortunately, there is a major flaw in this process: too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Excessive alcohol consumption is also associated with hypertension. It is thought that alcohol increases the level of cortisol in the bloodstream, which then increases the blood pressure. If you are drinking to dull the effects of stress or to simply have a good time, the excess alcohol consumption can be beneficial. However, if you are drinking to medicate or mask the symptoms of high blood pressure, you are in dire trouble. Overuse of alcohol can lead to serious health problems, such as liver damage, heart attack and stroke.
Other lifestyle factors such as smoking and being overweight can also play a role in high blood pressure. These factors exacerbate existing conditions and increase the risk of developing them in the future. Excess weight adds unnecessary strain on your heart, while smoking contributes to atherosclerosis, the condition that leads to heart attacks. It is therefore advisable to quit smoking and lose weight if you are experiencing high blood pressure.