What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Knowing what causes high blood pressure is essential to finding out how to fix it and return your health to normal.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few factors that determine blood pressure. The good news, is that almost all of those factors are entirely within your control!

1. Smoking

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There is no better reason to quit smoking (and all tobacco products) than the fact that it’s terrible for your overall health.

Chemicals in tobacco products, such as nicotine, wreak havoc on the lining of your artery walls, and can cause them to constrict which in turn increases your blood pressure.

The Solution: Talk to your doctor about the best way to quit smoking. Think of healthier habits that you could form in place of something as unhealthy as smoking!

2. Genetics and Family History

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Research points to genetics and family history being the culprit when it comes to high blood pressure.

While this factor is less easy to control—you are who you are, and you can’t help what you inherit—it IS helpful to know about!

If you’re aware that high blood pressure runs in your family, then it’s easier for you to remain mindful of your own blood pressure, and take proactive measures to stay healthy and ahead of the game.

The Solution: Stay ahead of the game. Make sure you’re getting plenty of exercise and eating right. Visit your doctor each year for regular blood pressure readings, and discuss a plan of attack. High blood pressure only gets the best of you if you let it!

3. Excessive Sodium

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While our bodies need salt to live, too much of it can lead to our bodies retaining excessive fluid and cause kidney problems.

When we retain more fluid than the kidneys can filter out, our blood volume increases, placing pressure against the artery walls.

This is how too much sodium directly affects blood pressure, which is why most doctors will tell patients with heart problems and high blood pressure to cut way back on their sodium consumption.

The Solution: Stay away from store-bought seasonings, dressing, marinades and sauces as well as baked goods and processed food. All these products contain high amounts of sodium as a preservative.

If you stick to preparing your own meals and eating plenty of veggies, lean meat, fruit, and whole grains, you’re health will improve dramatically.

4. Stress

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It’s important to understand that stress and mental health tend to affect our bodies physically as well as emotionally.

It’s all connected! When you’re under a lot of stress, your brain tells your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol (the stress hormone), which prepares your body to react to stress.

Cortisol increases your blood sugar, in case you need energy in a crisis that requires physical exertion.

However, if your stress is purely mental and you don’t metabolize or “burn off” that extra sugar, your liver stores it away as fat tissue.

This increases the amount of bad cholesterol circulating in your blood stream, which can lead to plaque build up and artery blockage.

The Solution: When you feel stressed, have an outlet! A great way to deal with stress and keep it from affecting your health is by literally burning it off through physical activity. Take a walk, a bike ride, or go for a jog. Do yard work or explore a new place.

When you’re channeling that stress, you’re also channeling all that extra sugar in your system and using it for positive energy.

5. Not Enough Exercise

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A lack of exercise affects a lot of things that lead directly back to heart health issues.

Not only does exercise promote a healthy weight and keeps excessive fat at bay, it also helps relieve mental stress and helps the body re-channel excessive blood sugar levels that are produced during mental stress.

Another thing that most people do not consider is the fact that your heart is a muscle. It’s a muscle that does a lot of constant and crucial work.

However, it’s no different than any other muscle in that it needs to be strengthened and conditioned in order to improve performance.

Regular exercise that gets your heart pumping and gets you to break a sweat, is always going to help increase your heart’s strength and endurance.

If your heart is too weak or has to work especially hard to pump blood through the entire body, it can’t do it’s job efficiently and your blood pressure (and many other things) will suffer because of it.

The Solution: Shoot for 30 minutes to an hour of physical activity every day. This activity should get your heart beating quickly and cause you to break a sweat. If you’re consistent with this, you will see a positive change in your weight, your energy levels, and your endurance.

6. Alcohol

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Research suggests that excessive alcohol consumption (more than 2 drinks a day for men, 1 drink a day for women) could interrupt the ability of vascular relaxing substances (such as Nitric Oxide) to do their job, affects the sympathetic nervous system, and makes one more prone to insulin resistance.

Alcohol could also stimulate the stress hormone, cortisol, and generally increases blood glucose levels.

Studies on how alcohol affects blood pressure acknowledge that it sometimes isn’t necessary to cut out alcohol entirely, but heavy consumption plays a negative role when it comes to blood pressure.

The Solution: Limit your alcohol consumption to 2 drinks a day. Standard alcohol serving sizes are: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor.

7. Being Overweight

overweight

Another cause of high blood pressure is obesity, or being overweight. Obesity is an indicator of excessive fat tissue, not only between the skin and muscle, but also around organs.

Fat around organs is what we call visceral fat, and it has an enormous ability to disrupt smooth functioning of those organs.

Excess body fat is also concerning because if it has nowhere else to go, it will eventually build up in your blood stream, causing blockages.

The Solution: Eat right and get plenty of exercise in order to keep excess body fat at bay, or to lose body fat. See your doctor about a strict diet and exercise plan, and work on living an all-around healthier and happier lifestyle!

8. Age

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Much of our bodily processes change as we age, one of them being blood pressure.

Starting in the 40s and 50s, blood pressure tends to become higher with age due to cell growth in the heart and blood vessels, which usually leads to a larger and thickened heart muscles, as well as more stiff, less elastic arteries.

The Solution: Studies show that the best thing to focus on with age-induced hypertension is exercise to maintain the strength and endurance of the heart muscle. When blood pressure naturally increases with age, your blood and blood vessels will also naturally require a stronger heart to do day to day work!

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