About 70 million adults in the U.S. struggle with high blood pressure and chances are you’re one of them if you’re reading this.
That’s nearly a third of all U.S. adults at risk for serious health concerns.
High blood pressure leads to other health problems such as kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease — the latter being the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S. If it’s so dangerous, why is it so common? People are being educated either too little or too late about the risks of high blood pressure. And most people don’t realize what’s causing their high blood pressure.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is caused by the narrowing and weakening of blood vessels. There are many different variables that can cause high blood pressure, such as diet, stress, and weight.
When our bodies have too much stress on them from complications from either external (work stress) or internal (dietary imbalances, weight) factors, they react adversely.
Your Diet and High Blood Pressure
For example, if a person consumes far more sodium than they should (which 9 out of 10 Americans do), the kidneys cannot eliminate excess water from the body. Meaning that sodium is left behind and blocks and narrows the blood flow, causing pressure to build inside the vessels.
Sugary foods also negatively affect our blood pressure. They are usually quite high in calories as well, which tends to add weight to our bodies. Excess sugar can lead to high blood pressure and an added risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Round out your diet and make sure to stay away from soda, juices that are not 100% juice, and added sodium often lurking in prepackaged goods. Your heart will thank you for it.
Stress and High Blood Pressure
Busy day at work? Long commute? Baby won’t stop crying? Every day we are faced with stressful, anxiety-filled situations. Stress is hardly avoided and can be difficult to deal with. It also takes a toll on our health.
One of the repercussions of stress is high blood pressure.
Stress causes your muscles to tighten and your heart rate to increase. As a result, you don’t breathe as deeply and don’t receive enough oxygen to your lungs and your blood. Your blood pressure then rises because your blood flow is restricted.
Take a step back when you start feeling overwhelmed and bewildered with stress.
If you are stuck in traffic, turn on relaxing music or call a friend or family member to distract you. When you can leave a situation for a moment, like work or at home with kids, do so. Just taking a 5 minute breather can refresh your mind and calm your muscles to prevent a spike in your blood pressure.
Weight and Your Blood Pressure
Weight can play a large factor in high blood pressure, mostly among obese and overweight people. The extra weight that is carried on your chest actually inhibits the ability to inhale and exhale big breaths.
With a limited ability to breathe, oxygen cannot reach the blood the way it needs to, causing strain on the heart and the lungs. Blood pressure then goes up due to the stress from the malfunctioning of the heart and lungs.
Additionally, chances are if you’re overweight, you’re not getting enough exercise. Build up from cholesterol and plaque grows because it isn’t being flushed out properly, leading to narrower passageways for blood to flow.
Clots and high blood pressure develop and potentially cause heart attacks.