Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure
The truth of the matter is that anyone can actually develop high blood pressure. This means that nobody is immune to high blood pressure, however there are certain factors that increase the risk of hypertension and make individuals more susceptible to high blood pressure.
Some of these factors can be controlled to prevent high blood pressure while some other factors cannot be controlled. In this chapter we would be looking at both the controllable and uncontrollable risk factors of hypertension. This would enlighten us to assess our risk.
Let’s begin please
Controllable and Uncontrollable Factors of High Blood Pressure
Overweight / obesity sedentary lifestyle, smoking, too much salt In diet, too little vitamin D n the diet, too little potassium in the diet, drinking alcohol stress, chronic medical condition.
Have you been thinking of what I am thinking? As you can see the controllable factors are way more than the uncontrollable factors. This is very good news innit?. This means we can play a huge role in curtailing and preventing high blood pressure by modifying the controllable factors and adopting some lifestyle changes.
The uncontrollable factors sadly cannot be modified but thank God they are not as many as the controllable factors. It is therefore advisable, to work with what is available to get the best result. Now let us go into details about both the uncontrollable and controllable risk factors.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure
These include age, race, family, history and gender.
Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases with aging. Therefore we can conclude that the older you get the higher the risk of developing high blood pressure. However the risk of prehypertension and high blood pressure Is increasing in children and teens possibly due to the rise in the number of overweight children and teens.
Gender: Now there is a twist on the risk factor “Gender”. Before the age of 55, men are more likely than women to develop high blood pressure. However, after the age of 55, women are more likely than men to develop high blood pressure.
Race / Ethnicity: High blood pressure is more common in Africans (blacks in general) than in Caucasians or Hispanic adults.
Family history: Of course we cannot control the family we are born into or the kind of genes we inherit. A family history of high blood pressure raises the risk of developing prehypertension or high blood pressure.
Some individuals have an increased sensitivity to sodium and salt and this would definitely increase the risk of high blood pressure and this sensitivity to salt and water might run in families. The genetic causes of high blood pressure are the reasons why family history is a risk factor for hypertension.
Controllable Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure
Overweight / Obesity: The harmful effects of being overweight or obese cannot be overemphasized as it can lead to a variety of diseases particularly hypertension. How does obesity lead to hypertension you might ask? Well the truth is the more you weigh the more blood needed to supply oxygen and nutrient to the body. This would definitely lead to an increased cardiac output which would eventually lead to an increased blood pressure. The good news however is that with proper intervention such as a detailed weight loss and maintenance programme (proper dieting and exercises) this risk factors can be totally avoided.
Another risk factor we have control over is “The Salt Content” as well as “potassium content” in the diet. Too much salt (sodium) in the diet (as we have said before water always accompanies salt). Too little potassium in the diet can lead to the accumulation of sodium in the blood therefore it is also important to balance the potassium content on our diet.
Sedentary Lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle simply means an “inactive lifestyle”. Being physically inactive tends to increase heart rate which subsequently causes an increase in blood pressure. It also increases the risk of being overweight. Yes sometimes we cannot help the kinds of jobs that come our way but sitting in one position all day during working hours with no physical activity is detrimental to our health.
Excessive alcohol intake: Consuming excessive alcohol is very detrimental to the heart and as such should be avoided. Yes we know a lot of social drinkers but ideally, having more than one drink a day for women and more than 2 drinks a day for men can lead to increased blood pressure. Remember the saying “prevention is better than cure”.
Smoking: Smoking / chewing tobacco has never been known to have any beneficial effect on the human body as it is a major predisposing factor to lung carcinoma (Cancer) as well as many other cancers. Not only does it lead to a rapid temporary increase in blood pressure, it also damages the lining of the artery walls causing the arteries to constrict thereby increasing blood pressure.
Stress: Stress apart from its effect on mental health can also lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure and so should be avoided as much as possible.
Chronic medical condition: Certain chronic conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
With the aforementioned risk factors, I mean the controllable risk factors. I am sure we can identify some of the bad habits we might be guilty of and ensure proper lifestyle modification to reduce the chances of developing high blood pressure and living healthy.