If you know the causes of high blood pressure, you know what to avoid - right?

The causes of high blood pressure

I said earlier that we don’t know the causes of high blood pressure. Talking about blood pressure is like body weight - there is no easy explanation as to why some people have more problems staying in the normal range compared others with a similar lifestyle - people differ in some fundamental way.

For example, we can say definitely, in the case of weight, that too much food and a lack of exercise will make you fatter.

Similarly we know some of the things that can make blood pressure high. We just don't know what root cause upsets the body's control mechanisms. Also there are still many mysteries as to why people differ so much in their body's response to some things that raise blood pressure.

The way the body controls blood pressure is a complex business, balancing many factors. The body has to have the means to react fast to situations, like exercise or standing up, to keep enough blood flowing to where it is needed. Different mechanisms control it over longer periods of time.

Anything that causes high blood pressure does so by affecting one or more of the many control factors that are in balance and we can safely say what a lot of those things are. Since the story is not the same for everyone, the solutions are also likely to vary.

The main culprits

  • Age
  • High BP is more common with age. By age 65 more people have it than not.

  • Heredity
  • It can run in families. It not guaranteed but you have a higher chance of developing hypertension if a close relative has it.

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Research has shown that blacks have a slightly higher risk of developing hypertension than whites and tend to have worse complications and death rates.

    The above, of course, can't be modified, but the list below, of things that can make your blood pressure rise, provides the starting point for taking control of your blood pressure . . .

    • Diet - high salt intake more . . .
    • Lack of exercise
    • Obesity / overweight
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol

    Click on any of the above "more" links to get more information!

    The modern diet in particular is responsible for many other health problems, obesity, diabetes and heart disease for example. For a wider discussion on diet and illness, visit simply-healthy-lifestyle.com.

    (Secondary hypertension, unlike essential hypertension has a specific underlying cause. For example, Kidney diseases, some cancers, thyroid and other hormonal disorders, and the side effect of certain drugs, particularly the oral contraceptive pill).

    High blood pressure causes: The KEY facts

    • The way the body controls blood pressure is a complicated balance of many factors.


    • The reasons for high blood pressure vary between individuals and even over time in the same person

    • Modifiable causes include high salt intake, lack of exercise, obesity, alcohol and smoking.

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