Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure

Thursday 17 December 2020
Cardiovascular Disorders

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jubil Tom, MD
on 4 February 2021

Table of Contents


I. Why High Blood Pressure is Dangerous

II. Common Risk Factors

a. Age

b. Gender

c. Race

d. Family History

e. Chronic Conditions

f. Lifestyle and Diet

III. Preventing High Blood Pressure

IV. Diagnosis and Treatment


Why High Blood Pressure is Dangerous

High blood pressure (HBP) is a dangerous condition because it can go undetected for many years. Eventually, HBP can cause heart disease and put your life at risk. People with HBP may not show symptoms for long periods, giving the illusion of health. Despite not showing symptoms, a person suffering from HBP can accumulate damage to their heart and blood vessels over the years. Uncontrolled HBP tends to precede serious health issues like heart attack and stroke. 

High blood pressure is extremely common. Sooner or later, it affects almost everyone. The exact cause of HBP can be hard to pin down. As time goes by, many factors can contribute to the narrowing of an individual’s arteries. The good news is HBP is usually easy to detect. Once detected, prescription drugs like Cozaar (losartan) and Aldactone (spironolactone) can help control blood pressure levels. Identifying HBP early can help you stay one step ahead of complications and lead a healthier life. Read on to learn more about the risk factors of high blood pressure. [1]

Common Risk Factors 

a. Age 

HBP typically develops over time, so the risk of high blood pressure increases as you get older. Blood vessels tend to lose elasticity gradually—another reason the risk of HBP is linked with age. Although the linear relationship between age and HBP is strong, children can have HBP, too. Factors like obesity can cause HBP in children. [2]

an older couple sharing a tender moment

b. Gender

Before the age of 64, men have a higher chance of developing HBP; after 65, women are more likely to have HBP. For women, pregnancy can sometimes cause HBP. This is referred to as gestational hypertension. Women also have an increased chance of getting HBP after menopause. [3]

c. Race

Studies show that in the United States, African Americans are at a higher risk of getting HBP than people of any other race. Complications like heart attack and kidney failure are also more common in African Americans. This may be due to a gene that increases sensitivity to salt, which consequently increases blood pressure. [1] [4]

d. Family History

Having a parent or relative that has HBP increases your risk of developing it as well. Knowing your family history can help in assessing your own risk of complications down the line. [2]

e. Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, or kidney disease may increase your risk of developing HBP. The reverse is true—having HBP can cause further kidney damage. When talking to your doctor, it is important to bring up any underlying condition that you may have. [1]

f. Lifestyle and Diet

While your age, gender, race, and family history are significant when assessing your risk of HBP, your lifestyle choices can make an even greater impact. This appears to be especially true in the growing number of children whose poor lifestyle is causing increased rates of HBP. [1] Even for those who already have high blood pressure, modifying aspects of your life can help you manage your HBP. 

a person eating poutine

A diet high in sodium, sugar, and fat will increase your risk of HBP. This type of diet may cause obesity. Being overweight burdens the heart and circulatory system and can cause conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease that directly contribute to HBP. Drinking too much alcohol or smoking can lead to heart failure, stroke, or an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). [1]

Preventing High Blood Pressure

Yes, many things can cause or worsen HBP. Then again, there are steps you can take to counter some of these causes. A healthy diet high in potassium can help lower your blood pressure. Smoking less and drinking less will reduce your risk of HBP, among many other serious health issues. Stress is often the root cause of unhealthy habits, and stress may contribute to increased blood pressure. Getting enough physical activity can help reduce stress and the negative habits that it brings. Exercising is also great for your heart and circulatory system, so it is a win-win. [1] 

a close-up of a person exercising on stairs

Diagnosis and Treatment

Even if your blood pressure is at a dangerous level, you may feel little to no symptoms. At most, you may get headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath—signs that usually only occur when your HBP is life-threatening. The good news is that HBP is fairly simple to diagnose. You can routinely get your blood pressure checked during visits to your doctor. If you are diagnosed with HBP, your doctor may prescribe Cozaar (losartan) or Aldactone (spironolactone) to help manage your blood pressure. Combining your treatment plan with healthy lifestyle changes will give you the best chance at successfully avoiding serious complications. 

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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