Effective Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure
By Godot Media
Chapter 2: Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure
There are plenty of risk factors that can determine the likelihood of high blood pressure. These risk factors can range from obesity to even genetics. Being aware of such risk factors can help you minimize the risk of you ending up with high blood pressure or hypertension. Most of these risk factors primarily require you to make significant lifestyle changes.
Here is a detailed list of the major risk factors for high blood pressure or hypertension.
Obesity: Obesity or excess body weight is one of the major contributors to hypertension. It is a condition that can occur in both, males and females. Obesity is basically the accumulation of excess body fat.
It occurs as a result of excessive calorie consumption. When the body has more calories than it needs, it converts these calories into fat and stores them for eventual use. However, most obese people do not burn the stored fat, which ultimately leads to massive deposits of fat in the body.
Apart from high calorific value, obesity can also be caused due to other factors that include improper metabolism, genetics, psychological factors, socio-cultural environment, sedentary lifestyle and so on.
Obesity is one of the major risk factors for hypertension or high blood pressure. Several studies have shown it to be true, time and again. Based on a wide number of population related studies, statistics indicate that two-thirds of obese people are bound to end up with hypertension. Obesity can also cause other medical complications as well, including cardiac failure, heart disease and sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, the specific mechanism behind the relation between hypertension and obesity is still unknown. However, studies indicate that the neuroendocrine mechanism and adipose tissue related factors maybe the main cause for this link.
Obesity has an impact on the body’s hormone levels, of which, the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system is affected the most. The system plays a key role in regulating the volume of blood in the body; it also controls the water retention and sodium levels in collaboration with the sympathetic nervous system. Since, these are the same factors that also control blood pressure, obesity tends to upset this balance, ultimately leading to high blood pressure or hypertension. As for the adipose tissue deposits, they can cause the kidney to function improperly, which further leads to irregularities in blood pressure.
Another factor involved here is the increased reabsorption of renal sodium, which also causes irregularities in the blood pressure. Obesity also causes metabolic syndromes such as insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. It is one of the reasons why two percent of patients suffering from high blood pressure are also diabetic.
To put it simply, obesity is the foundation of several factors that lead to high blood pressure so there is no specific mechanism that can link obesity with high blood pressure. The most likely reasons for obesity induced hypertension could be either renal or metabolic dysfunction.
To control obesity induced hypertension, it is necessary that you take care of your weight. Weight loss is the primary goal in such a scenario. Studies have shown that people with hypertension have been able to control their condition through the loss of weight.
Physical inactivity: Physical inactivity has also been known to contribute towards the development of hypertension. In fact, in a study published in the medical journal titled ‘Hypertension’, it was found that even young adults who were physically inactive had a fairly high chance of developing hypertension. The study also found that hypertension or high blood pressure could be avoided with proper exercise.
According to Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D at Northwestern University and the author of the study, individuals who lack a certain amount of physical fitness were more likely to develop a clear case of hypertension. The study was carried out by recruiting a total of 4,618 people (men and women) in the age groups of 18 to 30. It was conducted over a period of 20 years and focused on observing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
As part of the study, the volunteers had to complete a treadmill run and a physical activity questionnaire in the initial phase. The overall health of the volunteers was also assessed over a period of 20 years in phases of 6 follow-up visits.
It was noted that a little more than 1000 of the volunteers developed hypertension or high blood pressure. These volunteers were adjusted for other cardiovascular disease and hypertension risk factors such as smoking, genetics, diet, cholesterol and so on. However, it was noted that a lack of physical activity and fitness eventually led to the development of hypertension in these particular set of volunteers.
The study used an objective measurement of physical activity, which was the treadmill test. This clearly indicates that the lack of exercise can lead to hypertension. The researchers also found that if these volunteers had increased their level of physical activity, they would have had a 34 percent chance of minimizing the risk of developing hypertension.
Researchers also stated that young adults who led sedentary lives were more likely to continue the same habits as they aged. This significantly ups their chances of having high blood pressure. However, as a silver lining, the study has also shown how hypertension can be prevented by just increasing the level of physical fitness on a regular basis.
It is believed that one in three Americans suffers from high blood pressure according to statistics published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The American Heart Association suggests that even a moderate amount of exercise or physical activity such as jogging or brisk walking for 30 minutes, 5 times a week can go a long way in reducing the risk of hypertension. Not only can this reduce hypertension, it can even reduce the chances of developing other conditions such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Smoking: As the cigarette packets themselves state, smoking is gravely injurious to health. Apart from causing damage to the lungs, smoking has also been known to cause various other diseases including hypertension. Nicotine, a chemical found in tobacco, is said to be the prime contributor to high blood pressure. According to several observations, smoking can cause an instant rise in blood pressure. In fact, it can increase systolic blood pressure by 4mmHg. When the nicotine is released into the system through cigarettes, it forces the nervous system to release chemicals, which in turn can cause the blood vessels to become constricted. It ultimately, boosts blood pressure.
Smoking needs to be avoided at all costs because it can cause a wide range of complications other than hypertension alone. For instance, it can lead to blood vessel damage, which further leads to conditions such as heart disease, stroke, heart attack etc. When hypertension is added to the mix, things can only go from bad to worse.
Alcohol: Several studies have shown that alcohol is also a primary contributor to hypertension or high blood pressure. It has been observed that consuming three drinks or more in a single sitting can cause the blood pressure to rise significantly on a temporary basis. Similarly, continuous alcohol consumption can cause blood pressure to rise for extended periods of time.
Regular drinkers can reduce their systolic blood pressure by 2 to 4 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by 1 to 2 mmHg by just shifting to a more moderate drinking lifestyle. Doctors also advise that heavy drinkers should minimize their drinking gradually. A sudden change in drinking habits can cause the exact opposite.
Ideally, drinks should be limited to two drinks per day for men younger than 65 and one drink per day for men over 65. For women, drinking must be limited to one drink a day, irrespective of age. A single drink can be defined as 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or 5 ounces of wine.
Alcohol is also high in calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight, as explained earlier, is also a risk factor for hypertension.
Excessive salt intake: The role of salt in the human body is to regulate the level of water retained in the body. However, when the salt intake becomes higher, the kidneys tend to retain more water than usual. This high level of water retention causes the body to develop high blood pressure.
To understand this in a more detailed manner, let’s take a look at the functions of the human kidneys first. The kidneys keep the body health by removing unnecessary fluids from the body. This is achieved by filtering the blood. The extra fluid is filtered out, sent to the urinary bladder and sent out as urine.
The process of absorbing the extra fluid is known as osmosis. Osmosis involves a fine balance between sodium and potassium, which helps in drawing out the water from the cells that are found in the blood stream. However, when too much salt is consumed, the level of sodium tends to rise, causing an imbalance. It leads to lower absorption of unwanted liquids, which in turn causes the blood reassure to rise in the vessels.
If the high blood pressure goes untreated, it can lead to kidney failure. As treatment, doctors may prescribe diuretics to remove the excess fluids and also, suggest a low-sodium diet.
Old age: Age is also a key factor in the development of high blood pressure. It is due to the natural wear and tear that occurs throughout the human body as one enters middle age. According to medical studies, 65 percent of Americans over the age of 60 suffer from high blood pressure. Nevertheless, hypertension should not be considered as a normal consequence of aging. Mostly, it results due to the combination of aging and other lifestyle related factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity and so on. By following a lifestyle that is healthy, we can definitely minimize the chances of having hypertension, despite the body’s natural aging process.
Genetics and heredity: It is also possible to have a genetic predisposition towards hypertension, especially if the condition has existed in the family. Studies have shown that having family members with hypertension can increase your chances of developing the condition yourself. It is because certain genetic traits get transferred from parents to children through genes.
It has also been observed that other factors such as the social environment shared by the family can also lead to hypertension. For example, people who are obese themselves set a poor example to their children, who will also most likely end up being obese. Similarly, parents who consume foods with high levels of salt will also pass on the same dietary habits onto their children.
However, despite the genetic and hereditary factors involved, it is still possible to make an informed decision towards a leading a healthier lifestyle in order to eliminate the chances of developing hypertension.
Chronic kidney disease: Just as hypertension can lead to kidney disease, the reverse is also true. Chronic kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure. When the kidneys fail, they become unable to filter out the excess fluids in the bloodstream, which leads to hypertension. Kidney failure can occur due to a wide range of causes. It is best to consult with your doctor if you suspect that your kidneys maybe functioning improperly.
Adrenal and thyroid disorders: There are a few conditions that affect the adrenal glands, which lead to the high blood pressure. For instance, Aldosteronism and Pheochromocytoma are conditions where tumors form in the adrenal glands. In Aldosteronism, the affected adrenal glands produce excessive aldosterone (hormone), which causes the kidneys to retain fluids and salts, ultimately leading to hypertension. In Pheochromocytoma, the affected adrenal glands cause an increased production of noradrenaline and adrenaline, which leads to raised blood pressure.
Thyroid problems that cause high blood pressure include hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone production), hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone production), and hyperparathyroidism (high parathyroid hormone secretion that upsets the calcium-phosphorous balance).
Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a breathing condition that occurs when the body doesn’t receive enough oxygen. This occurs during sleep and is characterized by chronic snoring. A lack of oxygen can cause the blood vessels to get damaged and prevent them from regulating the blood pressure. Sleep apnea can also cause the nervous system to overreact and produce chemicals that raise the blood pressure.
Apart from regular hypertension, another condition known as ‘essential hypertension’ also exists. It is estimated that 95 percent of hypertensive cases suffer from essential hypertension. Here, the underlying cause of the hypertension cannot be pin-pointed. However, the treatment for regular hypertension and essential hypertension is roughly the same.