Blood Pressure

The condition of high blood pressure can happen to anyone. Even someone who appears to be in fantastic health can have high blood pressure. There are many risk factor that contribute to the development of high blood pressure – also known as hypertension. Some of these risk factors are listed below.

Click on a risk factor below to learn more »

Too much Alcohol

Heavy and regular use of alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically. It can also cause heart failure, lead to stroke and produce irregular heartbeats. Too much alcohol can contribute to high triglycerides, cancer and other diseases, obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Age

As we age, we all develop higher risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Blood vessels lose flexibility with age which can contribute to increasing pressure throughout the system.

Family History

If your parents or close blood relatives have had HBP, you are more likely to develop it as well. You might also pass that risk factor on to your children. It’s important for children as well as adults to have regular blood pressure checks. You can’t control heredity, but you can take steps to live a healthy life and lower your other risk factors. Lifestyle choices have allowed many people with a strong family history of HBP to avoid it themselves.

Gender

A higher percentage of men than women have HBP until 45 years of age. From ages 45 to 54 and 55 to 64, the percentages of men and women with HBP are similar. After that, a much higher percentage of women have HBP than men.

Lack of Physical Activity

Physical activity is good for your heart and circulatory system. An inactive lifestyle increases the chance of high blood pressure, heart disease, blood vessel disease and stroke. Inactivity also makes it easier to become overweight or obese.

Poor Diet – especially one that includes too much salt

To care for our bodies, we all need good nutrition from a variety of food sources. A diet that’s high in calories, fats and sugars and low in essential nutrients contributes directly to poor health as well as to obesity. In addition, there are some problems that can happen from eating too much salt. Some people are “salt sensitive,” meaning a high-salt (sodium) diet raises their high blood pressure. Salt keeps excess fluid in the body that can add to the burden on the heart. While too much salt can be dangerous, healthy food choices can actually lower blood pressure.

Overweight and Obesity

Being overweight increases your chances of developing high blood pressure. A body mass index between 25 and 30 is considered overweight. A body mass index over 30 is considered obese. Over two-thirds (67.3%) of U.S. adults are overweight or obese (over 149 million adults). Nearly one in three (31.7%) U.S. children (23,500,000) ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese. Excess weight increases the strain on the heart, raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can also make diabetes more likely to develop. Losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds can help lower your blood pressure and your heart disease risk.


Systolic

The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).

Diastolic

The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Blood Pressure
Category
Systolic
mm Hg (upper #)
Diastolic
mm Hg (lower #)
Normal
less than 120
and
less than 80
Pre-hypertension
120-139
or
80-89
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
140-159
or
90-99
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher
or
100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180
or
Higher than 110