High Blood Pressure / Hypertension
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when your blood pressure (the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels) is consistently too high.
Nearly 85 million Americans have high blood pressure and about 20% of those people don’t even know they have the condition. Having blood pressure that is consistently too high can make you more likely to have heart disease, experience heart attack or stroke, and develop aneurysms or kidney disease.
There are many reasons, or risk factors, for a person’s blood pressure to be too high. Some are modifiable, meaning they can be changed. These include:
- Obesity: Excess weight can make your heart work harder
- Sedentary life style: Lack of physical activity increases your risk of high blood pressure
- Diet: Eating foods or drinking beverages high in sodium (salt), calories, saturated fat and/or sugar increases the risk for developing high blood pressure
- Alcohol: Heavy alcohol use can cause many health problems including high blood pressure
- Smoking/tobacco use: Tobacco can cause blood pressure to increase; tobacco also damages arteries, which also causes high blood pressure
- Stress: Too much stress in your life, or stress that isn’t managed, can increase your blood pressure
Other risk factors can’t be modified, in that they can’t be changed. You simply must be aware of them.
- Family history: High blood pressure in close relatives increases your risk.
- Age: The older you are, the more likely you are to develop high blood pressure.
- Race: African-Americans develop high blood pressure more often than people of any other racial background in the United States.