In this article you will find what is blood pressure, normal blood pressure range and what are the risk factors and causes that develop high blood pressure.
What is Blood Pressure ?
The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. In simple words, blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. High blood pressure, the so called hypertension, causes your heart to work harder to pump blood to the body and thus results into hardening of arteries, also called atherosclerosis that leads to development of heart failure.
What is Normal Blood Pressure Range ?
A blood pressure has two readings. The top number is known as Systolic pressure and the bottom number as Diastolic pressure.
The blood pressure ranges are:
(i) Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
(ii) Prehypertension: 120-139 over 80-89 (130/80 for patients with diabetes or chronic disease)
(iii) Stage 1 of Hypertension: 140-159 over 90-99
(iv) Stage 2 of Hypertension: 160 and above over 100 and above.
If your blood pressure is high, it makes your heart pump harder and work over time that can put you to risk of serious health problems, like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and brain hemorrhage. To prevent this, people with blood pressure above the normal range should consult their doctor in time to take steps to bring it within normal range.
What Are The Causes Of High Blood Pressure ?
What causes high blood pressure is not exactly known, but there are several factors and conditions that may play a role in its development. Most of the causes for high blood pressure are essential high blood risk factors.
(i) Smoking – smoking causes the blood vessels to narrow, resulting in higher blood pressure. Smoking also reduces the blood’s oxygen content so the heart has to pump faster in order to compensate, causing a rise in blood pressure.
(ii) Being overweight or obese – overweight refers to having extra body weight from muscle, bone, fat and/or water. Obesity tends to refer just to having a high amount of extra body fat. Both overweight and obese people are more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to people of normal weight.
(iii) Lack of physical activity – lack of exercise, as well as having a sedentary lifestyle, raises the risk of hypertension.
(iv) Too much salt in the diet – people who eat too much salt are more prone to high blood pressure.
(v) Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day) – the risk may even sometimes include people who drink regularly, but not in excess. People who drink regularly have higher systolic blood pressure than people who do not.
(vi) Mental Stress – various studies have compelling evidence that mental stress, especially over the long term, can have a serious impact on blood pressure.
(vii) Older age – the older you are the higher the risk.
(viii) Gender – in general, high blood pressure is more common among adult men than adult women. However, after the age of 60 both men and women are equally susceptible.
(ix) Ethnic background – evidence in Europe and North America indicates that people with African and/or South Asian ancestry have a higher risk of developing hypertension, compared to people with predominantly Caucasian or Amerindian (indigenous of the Americas) ancestries.
(xi) Family history of high blood pressure – if you have close family members with hypertension, your chances of developing it are significantly higher.
(xii) Pregnency – pregnant women have a higher risk of developing hypertension than women of the same age who are not pregnant.
(xiii) Adrenal and thyroid disorders
Causes For High Blood Pressure – Categories
When we talk of causes for high blood pressure, we divied them into two categories:
(i) Essential / Primary Hypertension: This type of hypertension tends to develop gradually over many years. In about 95% of the reported hypertension cases in the U.S., the underlying cause of high blood pressure cannot be determined. This type of high blood pressure is called essential hypertension.
Though the exact cause for essential hypertension remains unknown, but it may be linked to certain risk factors. High blood pressure can be due to genetics and inclines to run in families. It is also known to affect more men than women. Age and race are also big risk factors for causing high blood pressure. In the U.S., blacks are twice likely to develop high blood pressure as compared to whites, but this gap gets narrowed down after age around 44. It is also found that in case of black women, the occurrence rate of high blood pressure is very high after the age 65.
The other causes for essential high blood pressure include diet and lifestyle. The link between salt consumption and high blood pressure is also significant. A theory to support this is that the people living in the northern islands of Japan consume more salt per capita than anywhere else in the world and have the highest incidence of essential hypertension. Most of the people with hypertension are salt-sensitive, which results into that anything more than the minimal body requirement for salt is too much for them leading to higher blood pressure.
Other major risk factors responsible for causing essential hypertension are obesity, diabetes, lack of physical activities, higher alcohol consumption, stress, insufficient intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium.
(ii) Secondary Hypertension: In this type of hypertension, a direct underlying cause can be determined. The secondary hypertension tends to appear suddenly and results into higher blood pressure than does primary tension. In such cases the high blood pressure has an underlying cause, such as kidney disease, or a specific medication the patient is taking. Out of the known causes for secondary hypertension, kidney disease ranks highest. Other major causes under this category include tumors and other abnormalities that produce adrenal glands (small glands that located atop the kidneys) to discharge excess quantities of the hormones that increase blood pressure. Pregnancy can also cause elevated blood pressure. Birth control pills – particularly those containing estrogen can also be responsible, as such medications constrict blood vessels.
Who Are More Prone To Develop High Blood Pressure ?
(i) People with family members who have high blood pressure
(iv) People over the age of 35
(v) People who are physically not active
(vi) People who are overweight or obese
(vii) People who eat too much of fatty foods or foods with too much salt
(viii) People who consume too much alcohol
(ix) People who have sleep apnea
(x) Pregnant women
(xi) Women who take birth control pills
Visit your doctor regularly for getting checked your blood pressure. When you find that it is getting higher than the normal range, take your doctor advise about the steps to be taken to control it and live a long healthy life.
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