Health & Wellness Articles

The Causes of High Blood Pressure

Learn Which Risk Factors You Can Control

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Lowering your blood pressure isn't always as simple as eating fewer high-sodium foods. The fact is that multiple factors combined affect your blood pressure. There are two main categories of risks that contribute to hypertension—those that you can't change, and those that you can.

Uncontrollable Risk Factors
These variables are out of your control. Although you can't do anything to change them, it's important to know whether you fall into any of these higher-risk categories.
  • Your age. Your risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you age. Men over 45 and women over 55 are more likely to have high blood pressure.
  • Your gender. Up to age 55, men are more prone to high blood pressure than women. After menopause, a woman's risk increases. By age 75, high blood pressure is more prevalent among women than men. Women who take oral contraceptives are also at a higher risk for hypertension.
  • Your family history. Your risk doubles if one or both of your parents had high blood pressure.
  • Your race. In the U.S., African Americans (especially women) are more likely to develop high blood pressure, along with other minorities (Hispanics, American Indians and Alaskan natives).
Although these factors are out of your control, there are several lifestyle habits that you CAN change to help lower your blood pressure.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • I'm screwed lol - 11/3/2015 10:21:00 PM
  • I believe that the American processed foods, fast food, and large portions help lead us down this path. I working on not using food as my guilty pleasure. It will kill me. - 11/4/2013 4:51:02 PM
    So...For generations my family history includes smoking, drinking, eating fried high calorie foods and no exercising. My personal history includes no smoking, no drinking, running up to 22 miles a week, and a healthy diet I lost 60 lbs in the last two years, and I am a white female. My only risk factor is I am 54. So why is my blood pressure high? The point of exercising eating healthy and losing 60 lbs was to stay off meds!!!!! If exercising didn't lower my BP why would meds do it? - 10/31/2013 9:37:34 PM
    Thank you, Holcomb. I know that happen. My dad have high blood pressure while I have low pressure. - 9/2/2012 12:45:39 AM
  • The hubby has high blood pressure and is on mess for it but has always tested to have borderline low sodium levels even though he salts everything he eats. There is no proof that high levels of sodium in the diet contribute to high blood pressure. It is strictly an individual thing - what works for one person does not work for all. That's why they call it "practicing" medicine. - 7/10/2011 3:55:12 PM
    ALERT! Please be aware and share with all those you know that those BP readings they take at your doctor's office could be wrong. In the last 3 yrs I have gone to the doctor where the medical assistant has read my BP. Auto response is 120/80. I knew better so I'd ask the doctor to take it. Outcome: 148/92. I went YEARS believing I had normal BP when in fact I didn't. Just saw my Dr last week to specifically talk about my BP. The medical assistant's reading? 118/75....nuts! ALWAYS ask your Dr to check your BP and use those machines at the pharmacy to help track. It could save your life & the life of those you love. - 2/25/2011 9:59:06 AM
  • I second what Coolinjeans said... there's a big myth that continues to perpetuate itself that a low sodium, low fat diet is the only way to 'cure' heart disease. Unfortunately any research that shows either 1) there is no connection between low salt/fat and increased incident of heart disease, or 2) eating low salt/fat is actually the contributing factor to heart disease, it's all swept under the rug.

    Not saying it's free license to eat burgers & fries, just saying that when you eat a diet rich in _real_ food (ie. cook your own meals with lots of veggies, fruit, meat and natural sources of fat), your incidence of any disease drops.

    Dietary fat and real salt are not the enemy - it's all the added stuff put into the packaged foods that needs to be feared. - 7/29/2010 12:25:46 PM
    Interesting article....enjoye
    d it....I do know that the cholesterol in food does not have the same biological compounds ( science/chemistry
    ) as the cholesterol produced by the body....basically the two are not the same but the body is good at producing the HDL......with exercise !!!
    - 12/15/2007 8:31:52 AM

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