Hypertension or high blood pressure (systolic 140 mmHg or higher and diastolic 90 mmHg or higher is hypertension) can lead to several complications. It is important to know if you have high blood pressure (check your blood pressure from your doctor, nurse or other health care providers) and to know if you are at risk of high blood pressure. Complications of hypertension can be serious and life threatening and it is important to control blood pressure (if you have hypertension) within normal limit so that complications can be avoided and prevented.
The risk factors of hypertension are given below and find out how many risk factors you have. The more risk factors of high blood pressure you have the greater is the risk of developing hypertension (and complications as a result) for you. Some of the risk factors are modifiable and some are non-modifiable. However, one may have high blood pressure without having any risk factors mentioned below.
Non-modifiable risk factors of hypertension:
- Age: The risk of hypertension increases with age. Unfortunately, we can do nothing about it. For females, the risk is greater after menopause.
- Family history: Hypertension can run in families.
- Race: Hypertension is more common in certain races, e.g. hypertension is more common among blacks than whites of similar age and sex and complications are also more common.
- Pregnancy: This can lead to hypertension. In most of this cases blood pressure comes down to normal after delivery, but the risk of hypertension in future increases.
Modifiable risk factors of hypertension:
- Obesity: Obese individuals are at greater risk of developing hypertension than normal body weight individuals. The greater your body weight the greater is the requirement of oxygen and blood volume increases, which results in high blood pressure.
- Physical inactivity: Physical inactivity is one of the important risk factors of hypertension. Physical inactivity can lead to obesity, which itself is a risk factor.
- Too much salt (sodium) in your diet: Excess salt (sodium) intake leads to retention of water in body, which increases blood volume and lead to high blood pressure. This is the reason doctors prescribe low salt diet for management of hypertension.
- Too little potassium in diet: Adequate potassium is essential to maintain sodium balance. Too little potassium can lead to excess sodium and hypertension.
- Tobacco use: Use of tobacco can raise blood pressure immediately temporarily. Use of tobacco reduces elasticity of walls of arteries and damage artery walls. This lead to narrowing of arteries and blood pressure increases.
- Drinking too much alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can damage the heart. But, moderate drinking (2 drinks a day) can be helpful to control blood pressure.
- Mental stress: Mental stress can increase blood pressure temporarily and which may become permanent feature. Do not use commonly used relaxation techniques such as having a cigarette or eating. Use relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga etc.
- Certain chronic medical conditions: There are several chronic medical disorders which increase risk of development of hypertension, such as diabetes, kidney disorders etc.
If you have the above-mentioned risk factors, you are at risk of developing hypertension. Be careful and take preventive measures to prevent development of hypertension.
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