8 Common Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure

By:    Published: November 21, 2012

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High blood pressure can put you at risk for a variety of harmful diseases and conditions. It’s important to monitor your blood pressure through regular visits to the doctor. Here are the main risk factors for high blood pressure along with tips for keeping yours under control.

Family History

High blood pressure can run in your family. If you have a parent or other close blood relative with high blood pressure, there you are more likely to develop the condition as well. Although this risk factor is beyond your control, it’s very important to find out if your close blood relatives have high blood pressure so you can be extra vigilant about your own blood pressure levels. In addition, you should make sure to inform your children if you have high blood pressure so that they can do the same.

[Related: 10 Tips For Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally]

Age

Your risk for high blood pressure goes up as your age. This is due to the fact that your blood vessels lose their elasticity over time, making it more difficult for blood to pass through easily. The pressure can slowly increase in your system due to this effect of age on the blood vessels. As you get older, make sure you are getting regular checkups at the doctor and monitoring your blood pressure levels.

Sex

More men have high blood pressure than women before the age of 45. Then, the rates of high blood pressure among men and women stay about the same until the age of 64. At age 65 and up, women are much more likely to have high blood pressure than men.

Poor Diet

In order to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, make sure you get a diet that includes a variety of foods with lows of essential nutrients. Avoid too much fat, sugars or calories. The most important thing to watch out for is a diet that’s high in salt. Eating too much salt keeps excess fluids in your body and makes it harder for your heart to perform efficiently.

[See: 10 Best Foods For Lowering Blood Pressure]

Lack of Exercise

You need to get regular physical activity in order to keep your heart and circulatory system in good shape. The more inactive you are, the more likely you are to develop high blood pressure. Make an effort to be active – even just going for a walk every day is a good way to start.

Weight

Being overweight (body mass index between 25 and 30) or obese (body mass index over 30) increases your risk for high blood pressure. The excess weight on your body places a strain on your heart. It also raises your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). According to the American Heart Association (AHA), over 67 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and a good diet.

Alcohol

If you drink too much alcohol, your blood pressure levels can increase significantly. In addition, it increases your risk for a number of other diseases and conditions, including cancer, obesity and alcoholism. Heavy and regular use of alcohol should be avoided if you want to keep your blood pressure in check.

Tobacco

Smoking and chewing tobacco both raise blood pressure temporarily. In addition, the chemicals in tobacco can do serious damage to your arterial walls. This can lead to an even higher risk of high blood pressure since it can narrow the arteries and increase the pressure inside.

Dangers Of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can lead to the following health complications:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Blood vessel problems in the kidneys
  • Blood vessel problems in the eyes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Memory and comprehension problems

Tips For Lowering Blood Pressure

Use the following tips to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level:

  • Get regular exercise. The AHA recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week.
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, lean meats and whole grains. Avoid too much salt, saturated fats, trans fats and sugars. Or, you could try the DASH diet.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Losing just 10 to 20 pounds could significantly lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Reduce your stress levels – some researchers have found that stress and high blood pressure may be related.
  • Quit smoking if you currently smoke.
  • See a doctor regularly and inquire about medication for chronically high blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure (or at risk for it based on genetics, age, sex or lifestyle), it’s time to take serious steps to ensure that your blood pressure is at a healthy level. Use the tips above to actively prevent high blood pressure. In addition, don’t forget about seeing a doctor regularly to have your blood pressure monitored.

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