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This Month In Health
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    When hypertension sets in, the heart is forced to work overtime in order to pump oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to all body tissues. Wonder what causes high blood pressure in the first place? In many cases, the exact cause is unknown, but there are things that play a role. Read on to learn what they are. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

The Silent Killer Living in Your Veins

What is high blood pressure and what causes it?

With high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension), your arteries narrow and stiffen, increasing the pressure inside your blood vessels. The damage this does to your blood vessels makes it easier for cholesterol to form plaque. As plaque builds up, blood vessel walls narrow even further, making blood pressure increase even more.

When hypertension sets in, the heart is forced to work overtime in order to pump oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to all body tissues. This puts you at risk for aneurysm, heart disease, heart failure, stroke, dementia, kidney damage, vision problems, and bone loss.

And while it sounds extreme, all this could be going on without your knowledge. Hence why high blood pressure is often called a silent killer.

Want to keep your blood pressure in check? The best way to do this is to get your blood pressure checked regularly. If you have a high reading, consider this a warning call, and take the steps necessary to lower your numbers to a safe zone.

Wonder what causes high blood pressure in the first place? In many cases, the exact cause is unknown, but there are things that play a role. Read on to learn what they are.

Genetics

Hypertension often runs in families. If you have a family member with the disease, you have a greater chance of developing it yourself. Know your family’s medical history so you can more carefully monitor your blood pressure if necessary.

Age

As you get older, your risk of high blood pressure goes up. This is because blood vessels tend to lose their flexibility as they age.

Ethnicity

For some reason, African-Americans are more likely to have hypertension than other ethnic groups. Additionally, when African-Americans do have the disease, it’s more severe and harder to treat.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise leads to a stronger heart. When your heart is strong, it pumps blood more efficiently so there’s less force on your arteries. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at a greater risk of high blood pressure.

Obesity

The more weight you carry around, the harder your heart must work to pump blood through your blood vessels. This adds up to additional pressure on the arteries and higher blood pressure.

Diet

What you eat and drink affects blood pressure. There are three things in your diet known to increase blood pressure: sodium, unhealthy fats (saturated and trans), and alcohol. High sodium foods include canned soups, ham, pizza, frozen dinners, sauces, condiments, snack foods, canned vegetables, and fast food. Unhealthy fats are found in meat, butter, cheese, fast food, and plant-based oils. More than one or two alcoholic drinks a day is all it takes to raise your risk of high blood pressure.

Smoking

People who smoke have a much greater chance of developing high blood pressure. Two of tobacco’s many negative effects are the narrowing of blood vessels and lowering the amount of oxygen in the blood. These effects require the heart to pump faster in order to deliver oxygen to the body, thereby increasing blood pressure.

Stress

In the moment, stress leads to spike in blood pressure. When the stress subsides, your blood pressure typically returns to normal, but even short-lived high blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessels.

Health Conditions

Certain health conditions are associated with hypertension. These include diabetes, sleep apnea, pregnancy, adrenal disease, thyroid disorders, and chronic kidney disease. Work with your doctor to develop a plan to manage high blood pressure and minimize its damaging effects.

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