Risk Factors for Hypertension
- Smoking —Smoking causes blood vessels to narrow, raising blood pressure. This repeated behavior can lead to permanent damage to the blood vessels and increase your risk of developing hypertension.
- Excess dietary sodium—Excess sodium causes the body to retain water. The excess fluid circulates in the blood, creating more pressure on arterial walls.
- Excess alcohol intake—Alcohol has negative effects on the nervous system and blood vessels, creating an increase in blood pressure.
- Lack of exercise—Sedentary lifestyles are associated with other unhealthy behaviors, such as poor diet and weight gain. Moderate to intense exercise, done regularly, improves heart function and promotes healthy arteries.
- Stress—Hormones released by your body when you are under stress can increase your blood pressure. This may aggravate high blood pressure in genetically susceptible individuals.
- Glucose intolerance or diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome—This condition is marked by elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and body weight. Excess weight centered around the midsection is of particular concern.
- Sleep apnea—Breathing stops for brief periods of time while you are sleeping.
- Kidney disease
- Hormonal disorders
- Panic disorder
Oral contraceptives—Taking oral contraceptives may increase your risk of hypertension in certain situations. You are more likely to develop hypertension while taking oral contraceptives if you:
- Have a family history of hypertension
- Have kidney disease
- Are overweight
- Had hypertension during pregnancy
Other medications—Certain medications can increase your risk of high blood pressure and/or interfere with medications you may take to lower your blood pressure. These include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen
- Diet pills
Jolly S1, Vittinghoff E, et al. Higher cardiovascular disease prevalence and mortality among younger blacks compared to whites. Am J Med. 2010; 123(9):811-818.
Risk factors for hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 4, 2014. Accessed February 26, 2014.
Understand your risk for high blood pressure. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandYourRiskforHighBloodPressure/Understand-Your-Risk-for-High-Blood-Pressure%5FUCM%5F002052%5FArticle.jsp. Updated September 3, 2013. Accessed February 26, 2014.
Who is at risk for high blood pressure? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/atrisk.html. Updated August 2, 2012. Accessed February 26, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 09/2013 -
- Update Date: 00/22/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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