High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is too high. It is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, affecting about one in four adults.
High blood pressure often has no symptoms but can damage the heart, brain, kidneys, and other organs over time. Therefore, it is crucial to know what causes high blood pressure and how to prevent or treat it.
This blog post will explore 10 factors influencing your blood pressure, such as genetics, age, race, diet, lifestyle, stress, medications, and other medical conditions. We will also provide some practical tips on how to lower your blood pressure and improve your health.
10 Common Factors that Cause High Blood Pressure
- Smoking can damage the lining of the arteries and increase the risk of atherosclerosis.
- Being overweight or obese can increase blood volume and the pressure inside the arteries.
- Lack of physical activity can reduce the elasticity of the blood vessels and make the heart work harder.
- Too much salt in the diet can cause the body to retain water and raise blood pressure.
- Too much alcohol or caffeine in the diet can stimulate the nervous system and constrict the blood vessels.
- Stress, anxiety, and anger can release hormones that increase the heart rate and blood pressure. It’s better to do an EKG to know more.
- Certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, and preeclampsia, can affect kidney function, blood sugar levels, breathing, hormone levels, and the placenta, respectively, and cause high blood pressure.
- Some medications, such as steroids, decongestants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can affect hormone levels, fluid balance, blood vessels, and inflammation, respectively, and cause high blood pressure.
- Genetics, age, and race can influence susceptibility to high blood pressure and the response to treatment. African Americans have higher average blood pressure levels and experience elevated blood pressure at a younger age than other races and ethnicities.
- Sex can affect the risk of high blood pressure differently for men and women. Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure before age 55, while women are more likely to develop it after menopause.
Stress, Anxiety, and Anger on Blood Pressure
Stress, anxiety, and anger can raise blood pressure by stimulating the nervous system and releasing hormones that increase the heart rate and constrict the blood vessels.
This can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure that can damage the blood vessels, the heart, and the kidneys over time.
Some of the ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and anger are:
- Think before you speak and avoid saying something you’ll regret later.
- Practice focused deep breathing, or use techniques like box breathing to calm yourself down.
- Engage in physical activity that can help reduce stress and release endorphins.
- Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, which can worsen your anxiety and anger.
- Seek professional help if your stress, anxiety, or anger interferes with your daily life or causes physical or mental health problems.
How Do Genetics, Age, And Race Influence High Blood Pressure?
Genetics, age, and race can influence your blood pressure by affecting how your body regulates blood flow, fluid balance, hormone levels, and inflammation. Some people may inherit genes that make them more susceptible to high blood pressure or less responsive to treatment.
Age can also increase the risk of high blood pressure as the blood vessels become less elastic, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood. Race can also play a role as some racial and ethnic groups, such as African Americans, have higher rates of high blood pressure and related complications than others.
Some of the things you can do to lower your blood pressure are:
- Eat a healthy diet low in salt, saturated fat, and added sugars and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Exercise regularly for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of both.
- Maintain a healthy weight and lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, damaging your blood vessels and increases your blood pressure.
- Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Manage your stress levels by practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing, or seeking professional help.
- Take your prescribed medications as directed by your doctor and monitor your blood pressure regularly at home or a clinic.
Can Salt, Alcohol, And Caffeine Affect Your Blood Pressure?
Salt can cause your body to retain water, increasing blood volume and pressure inside the arteries. It can also interfere with the function of the kidneys, which regulate fluid balance and blood pressure.
Alcohol can temporarily raise blood pressure by stimulating the nervous system and constricting the blood vessels. Repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure by damaging the blood vessels, the heart, and the liver.
Caffeine can cause a temporary but dramatic increase in your blood pressure by blocking a hormone that helps relax the blood vessels. The blood pressure response to caffeine varies from person to person and depends on factors such as genetics, age, weight, and caffeine tolerance.
Some of the ways to limit salt, alcohol, and caffeine in your diet are:
- Read the nutrition labels and choose foods low in sodium, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
- Avoid processed foods, canned foods, frozen meals, fast foods, and restaurant foods, which are often high in sodium, fat, and calories.
- Use herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon juice, or other salt-free seasonings to flavor your foods instead of salt, soy sauce, ketchup, or different sauces.
- Drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and two alcoholic beverages per day for men, and avoid binge drinking, which is defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in about two hours.
- Drink water, herbal tea, or low-fat milk instead of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, or soda.
- Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 400 milligrams per day, equivalent to about four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola, or two energy drinks.
Smoking, Lack of Exercise, and Sleep Apnea: Do They Induce High Blood Pressure?
Smoking can damage the lining of the arteries and increase the risk of atherosclerosis, which narrows the blood vessels and raises blood pressure. It can also temporarily increase blood pressure by stimulating the nervous system and constricting the blood vessels.
Lack of exercise can reduce the elasticity of the blood vessels and make the heart work harder to pump blood, which increases blood pressure. Lethargic life also leads to weight gain, increasing blood volume and the pressure inside the arteries.
Sleep apnea can cause repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, which can activate the sympathetic nervous system and cause blood pressure spikes when breathing resumes. It also lowers the oxygen levels in the blood, which can trigger the release of hormones that increase blood pressure.
Some of the ways to quit smoking, stay active, and sleep better are:
- Set a quit date and plan to stop smoking, such as using nicotine replacement products, medications, counseling, or support groups.
- Avoid triggers that make you want to smoke, such as stress, alcohol, caffeine, or certain people, places, or situations.
- Reward yourself for your progress and celebrate your achievements, such as saving money, breathing easier, or improving your health.
- Include strength training, flexibility, and balance exercises to improve muscle mass, joint range of motion, and stability.
- Choose activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, or playing sports, and find a partner or a group to keep you motivated and accountable.
- Talk to your doctor about sleep apnea symptoms, such as snoring, gasping, choking, or waking up with a headache, dry mouth, or sore throat.
- Get tested for sleep apnea and use the recommended treatment, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, an oral appliance, or surgery, to keep your airway open during sleep.
- Follow good sleep hygiene practices, such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bed, creating a comfortable and dark sleeping environment, and limiting the use of electronic devices at night.
High blood pressure is a common and severe condition that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. Many factors can cause or contribute to high blood pressure, such as genetics, age, race, diet, lifestyle, stress, medications, and other medical conditions.
The good news is that you can lower your blood pressure and prevent or delay complications by changing your daily habits. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and caffeine, managing stress, taking your prescribed medications, and treating any underlying conditions, such as sleep apnea.
By following these tips, you can take control of your blood pressure and improve your overall well-being. Contact our clinic and get tested for any high blood pressure-related issues.