It is good to know and be able to recognize the risk factors for hypertension. Because it’s an important part of heart-healthy living. According to the CDC about 1 of 3 U.S. adults or about 75 million people have hypertension.
However, only about half (54%) of these people have their high blood pressure under control. Hypertension usually has no warning signs. But it can lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart attack or stroke.
Risk factors include health conditions, your lifestyle, and your family history. They can increase your risk for high blood pressure. Monitoring your blood pressure more closely may help prevent serious issues such as heart failure and kidney disease later in life.
Some of the risk factors for hypertension cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
Here are 10 Risk Factors For Hypertension
As you get older, your risk for hypertension and heart disease increases. As we age, our blood vessels gradually lose some of their elastic quality. This can contribute to increased blood pressure. However, children can also develop high blood pressure. Learn more about children and high blood pressure.
Experts believe African Americans are at greater risk for hypertension. They are also more likely to develop it earlier in life. Researchers also think that African Americans may have a gene that makes the body more sensitive to salt, so consuming sodium causes a greater increase in their blood pressure than it would for those people who aren’t sensitive.
Like many health conditions, if your parents or close blood relatives have hypertension, you can develop it, too. High blood pressure tends to run in families.
Being overweight or obese.
Carrying too much weight puts an extra strain on your heart and circulatory system. It also increases your risk of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. However, the more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
Not being physically active.
People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight. Learn more about getting regular physical activity.
Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily. But the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of heart disease. Secondhand smoke also can increase your heart disease risk.
Too much salt (sodium) in your diet.
Eating a well-balanced diet is better for your body for many reasons. But it’s especially important for your heart health. A sodium-heavy diet can cause excess fluid in the body, which puts more pressure on the heart. This puts you at risk for hypertension.
Too little potassium in your diet.
Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don’t get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.
Drinking too much alcohol.
Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
Stress is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. But, high levels of stress can increase your risk for hypertension. It can encourage behaviors that increase blood pressure, such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and using tobacco or drinking alcohol more than usual. This may only increase problems with high blood pressure.
Certain chronic conditions.
Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk for hypertension, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.