Causes and Risk Factors

In more than 90 percent of all high blood pressure cases, the exact cause is unknown. This is called primary or “essential” hypertension, and it can be associated with the Hypertension High Blood pressurefollowing factors:

  • Heredity
  • Race – African-Americans develop high blood pressure more often than Anglo-Americans, and it tends to occur earlier and be more severe.
  • Gender – men are more likely to develop high blood pressure than women.
  • Age – high blood pressure occurs most often in people over the age of 35.
  • Obesity – people who weigh 30 percent or more above their ideal body weight are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
  • Sodium sensitivity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Physical inactivity
  • Certain drugs such as diet pills or amphetemines

In the remaining 10 percent of all cases, high blood pressure is attributed to kidney disease, a hormonal imbalance, a narrowing of the artery to a kidney, a tumor of one of the adrenal glands, or some other anatomic or physiologic abnormality. These cases are called “secondary hypertension,” and usually disappear when the problem is controlled.

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