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Causes of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

In most cases, doctors cannot clearly explain what exactly causes high blood pressure (HBP). What is most definitely clear are the things that can increase your risk of developing hypertension.

First of all, what is blood pressure?

It is the measure of the force blood uses to push against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into blood vessels and this blood circulates throughout your body. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is dangerous because it forces the heart to work harder than normal in its function of pumping blood out to the body. This contributes to the hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, to kidney disease, stroke and even heart failure.

Few Known causes of high blood pressure

About 1 in 20 cases of high blood pressure results from an underlying health condition or taking certain medications.

Health conditions which cause high blood pressure include:

  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • long-term kidney infections
  • obstructive sleep apnoea  –  It is a condition in which where the throat walls relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting someone’s normal breathing
  • glomerulonephritis – It refers to damage to the tiny filters in the kidneys
  • narrowing of the arteries that supply the kidneys
  • hormone problems – for example, an underactive thyroid, an overactive thyroid, acromegaly, Cushing’s syndrome, increased levels of the hormone aldosterone (hyperaldosteronism), and phaeochromocytoma
  • lupus – A condition that involves the immune system attacking parts of the body like the organs, skin and joints.
  • scleroderma – A condition that causes thickened skin and sometimes problems with organs and blood vessels

Things that can raise your risk of having high blood pressure

Your risk will increase if you:

  • are overweight or obese
  • Consume too much salt but eat inadequate fruits and vegetables
  • do not  exercise enough
  • Consume too much alcohol or coffee, plus caffeinated drinks
  • smoke
  • are over 65 years of age
  • do not sleep enough or have disturbed sleep
  • Come from a family with high blood pressure
  • Come from a black African or black Caribbean background
  • live in a deprived area

If you make healthy lifestyle changes, that can help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and also help lower your blood pressure in case it’s already high.

Some of the medicines that can increase your blood pressure

  • steroids
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – for example,  ibuprofen and naproxen
  • the contraceptive pill
  • some herbal remedies – especially those with liquorice
  • some pharmacy cold and cough remedies
  • some selective serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI) antidepressants – for example, venlafaxine
  • some recreational drugs – for example, cocaine and amphetamines

This implies that your blood pressure may return to normal if you quit taking these medicines or drugs. Besides, it depends on individual cases.


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