What Causes Hypertension?


Hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure, which causes the heart to pump harder, remains higher than normal. Hypertension can affect anyone at any age, but it tends to be more common among older adults and people of African American descent.

Hypertension means high blood pressure.

Hypertension means high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. It’s measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The higher your number, the more risk you have for heart disease and stroke. The lower it is, the better.

Hypertension is common among many Americans

Hypertension is a common problem in the United States. It’s estimated that one out of every three Americans has high blood pressure, or hypertension. Hypertension is a silent killer — you could have it and not even know it!

High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke, both potentially fatal conditions. It’s also known as the “silent killer” because there are no symptoms until damage has already been done to organs such as your brain or kidneys. Hypertension doesn’t just affect adults; children who develop high blood pressure early in life are at risk of developing chronic health problems later on in adulthood, including heart disease and kidney failure.

Hypertension increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Hypertension can be controlled with lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.

If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), it means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body than it should at rest. If you have high blood pressure, the force of each heartbeat may cause pain in your chest above the collarbone or in your neck on either side of the Adam’s apple. It might also cause a headache (often described as “pressure-like”).

Hypertension, if untreated, can also cause kidney failure, blindness and a number of other health problems.

Untreated hypertension can cause a number of serious health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness

If you have hypertension and are unable to control it using lifestyle changes, medications or both, then you may need to seek out more advanced treatment. This could involve surgery if the cause is an enlargement of your heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) or narrowing of your arteries (atherosclerosis).

Here are some causes of hypertension…

  • Overweight or obese
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress (long-term)
  • High salt diet
  • Heredity (family history)

Cause: Overweight or obese

You may be surprised to learn that being overweight or obese is the most common cause of hypertension. The good news: Losing weight can help lower your blood pressure.

The bad news: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. In fact, the risk of these conditions increases with the amount of weight you gain. That’s why it’s important to work toward keeping your BMI within a healthy range and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout life so you can reduce your overall risk for these serious health problems.

Cause: Lack of exercise or physical activity

It’s important to note that lack of exercise or physical activity can also cause hypertension. In fact, not being physically active can increase your blood pressure by as much as 30 percent.

Furthermore, those who are physically inactive are more likely to develop other conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Exercise helps to keep your blood pressure in check and reduces stress levels, which improves sleep quality by lowering cortisol levels throughout the night (cortisol is a stress hormone).

Even small amounts of exercise can make a huge difference! The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise like walking or running—that’s just about 30 minutes 5 days a week!

Cause: Excessive alcohol consumption

Hypertension can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it causes you to lose more fluid than you take in. When this occurs, your body will try to balance out your electrolyte levels by releasing calcium from your bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and other bone problems.

Additionally, alcohol is high in calories and low in nutrition—it contains zero vitamins or nutrients but has an abundance of carbohydrates and fat. If you are overweight or obese (which affects one-third of adults), then consuming excess calories such as those found in alcoholic beverages could lead to weight gain and obesity-related health problems like type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Alcohol abuse has been linked with liver disease including chronic hepatitis C virus infection (HCV). HCV infection may lead not only directly but also indirectly through obesity due to increased risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes mellitus type 2 which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease related complications such as myocardial infarction (MI)and stroke leading ultimately toward end stage renal disease requiring dialysis treatment .

Cause: Stress (long-term)

Stress is a major cause of hypertension. Stress can be both the result of life events and an independent risk factor for hypertension. Work stress may cause you to eat more, leading to weight gain and high blood pressure. Family stresses often lead to poor eating habits and reduced physical activity, which contribute to hypertension as well. Financial pressures can have similar effects on your body as other forms of stress: worry about money can make you feel anxious and stressed out; if this anxiety continues over time, it can result in behavior changes that increase your chances of developing high blood pressure later on down the line!

Cause: High salt diet

In the United States, most of the salt we eat is added to food during processing. Salt is a preservative and helps keep foods looking fresh. Some foods naturally contain salt, like cheese, so there’s no way to avoid it entirely—but you can reduce your overall intake by being aware of how much sodium is in processed foods.

If you want to lower your blood pressure, taking steps to cut back on table salt may be an important first step toward achieving that goal.

Cause: Heredity (family history)

Hypertension can be hereditary. If your parents or grandparents have hypertension, you are more likely to develop it as well. Hypertension can also run in families because of a genetic factor called the renin-angiotensin system (RAS).

The RAS is a group of enzymes that control blood pressure and sodium levels. The RAS works by producing hormones that affect these functions, including angiotensin II and aldosterone. These hormones increase blood vessels’ ability to hold on to salt and water, which raises your blood pressure.

There are things you can do to control hypertension.

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress.
  • Limit alcohol intake to one drink per day for men, or two drinks per day for women.
  • Manage stress by talking about your feelings with someone you trust, exercising or doing yoga.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly with your doctor if you have hypertension.

If you have high blood pressure: * Use medications as prescribed by your doctor to control it; lifestyle changes alone may not be enough. You may need to take medication for life if lifestyle changes do not lower the pressure enough on their own. The number of people who get new cases of high blood pressure increases as they age, so ask your doctor what’s best for you at each stage of life (such as during pregnancy).


Hypertension is one of the most common health problems in the United States. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, there are things you can do to control it. Remember that it’s important to stay active and eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Also consider taking medication if necessary.