Hypertension III - Risk Factors and Prevention of Essential Hypertension

hypertension; what is hypertension; causes of hypertension; types of hypertension; risk factors of hypertension; prevention of primary/essential hypertension
Medical Tutors Limited
August 11, 2023

01:40 PM

Over 90% of hypertension causes are unknown. yet some factors contribute largely to the persistent increase in the number of hypertensive patients.

Primary hypertension is a type of hypertension not caused by a specific disease. However, there are certain factors that can increase its risk. Some of these factors are irreversible while others are irreversible.

These risk factors include:

Irreversible Risk Factors for Hypertension

Age: Because blood pressure tends to rise as a person gets older, the risk of high blood pressure begins to increase at age 45 years, although it can occur in younger people. The Black race tends to develop it younger and have more severe hypertension.

Gender: Hypertension is more common in men than women, especially during childbearing age. This is why women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure at some point during their lives especially after menopause (above 55 years).

Race: High blood pressure is particularly common among blacks, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites. Serious complications such as stroke and kidney failure are also more common in blacks.

Genetics (Heredity) and Family History: Heredity is when family members pass traits from one generation to another. The gene can play some role in high blood pressure, heart diseases, and other related conditions. However, it is likely an individual with a family history of high blood pressure increases the potential risk of such an individual developing the disease. The risk for high blood pressure can increase even more when the gene combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy eating, smoking, and heavy alcohol intake.

Therefore, people with a family history of hypertension or high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing the disease.

Reversible Risk Factors

Obesity: Excess weight causes changes in the blood vessels, the kidneys, and other parts of the body. These changes often increase blood pressure. The more one weighs the more the need for blood to supply oxygen and nutrient to tissues. As the volume of blood circulating through the blood vessels increases so does the pressure on artery walls. Obesity has been identified as a risk factor for hypertension. People may have obese abdomens from excessive drinking of sugary drinks, alcohol, and traditional large carbohydrate meals.

Being overweight or having obesity also raises the risk of heart disease and its risk factors, such as high cholesterol.

Physical Inactivity: Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for hypertension. People who are inactive have a higher heart rate. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being obese. Getting regular physical activity helps the heart and blood vessels stay strong and healthy, which may help lower blood pressure. Regular physical activity can also help you keep a healthy weight, which may also help lower blood pressure.

Unhealthy Diet: An unhealthy diet that is too high in sodium and too low in potassium puts one at risk for high blood pressure.

  1. Too Much Sodium (Salt): Eating too much sodium - an element in table salt in the diet causes the body to retain fluid which increases blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods.
  2. Low Potassium Level in Diet: Potassium is a mineral that the body needs to work properly. It helps to balance the amount of salt in the body’s cells. Low potassium levels may be due to lack of potassium in the diet or certain health conditions including dehydration, and can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Food such as bananas, potatoes, and yogurt have high levels of potassium.
  3. Excessive (Heavy) Alcohol Intake: Heavy alcohol intake can damage the heart. Taking more than 3 drinks at a time temporarily raise blood pressure, causing the body to release hormones that increase blood flow and heart rate. Alcohol use has been linked as a risk factor for increased blood pressure, particularly in men.
  4. Lack of Vitamin D: It is uncertain if having too little vitamin D in one’s diet can lead to high blood. Medical researchers believe that lack of vitamin D may affect an enzyme produced by the kidney thus affecting blood pressure.
  5. Fat (Cholesterol) in Diet: Fats block the inside of the blood vessels and cause an increase in blood pressure. It is also associated with increased body weight (obesity).
  6. Tobacco Use: Smoking, chewing tobacco, or vaping can increase one’s risk for high blood pressure. Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine raises blood pressure, and breathing in carbon monoxide which is produced from smoking tobacco, reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry.

Stress: High levels of stress can lead to a temporary, but dramatic, increase in blood pressure. Stress-related habits such as eating more, drinking alcohol, or tobacco use can only alleviate one’s problem with a further increase in blood pressure. Relaxation and meditation therapy effectively lowers blood pressure.

Preventing High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Living and being committed to a healthy lifestyle can help prevent and manage high blood pressure. So, to avoid hypertension, one can practice these healthy lifestyle habits:

Maintaining A Healthy Weight: Having overweight or obese can increase one’s risk of developing high blood pressure. Being overweight forces the heart to work harder to pump blood around the body, which raises blood pressure. Losing and maintaining a healthy weight can help control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of complications and other health problems. Seek recommendations from doctors on ways to reach a healthy weight, including choosing a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity.

Getting Regular Exercise (Physically Active): Getting physically active and taking regular exercise can help to lower blood pressure and keep the body at a healthy weight. This helps the heart and blood vessels to be in good condition. Also, this can help to ease stress and reduce the risk of other medical conditions. Adults should at least get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling or fast walking; or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two every week.

Healthy Diet: Choosing and maintaining a healthy meal or diet can help to reduce or avoid the risk of high blood pressure and its complications. This can be done by limiting the amount of sodium (salt) intake (try to eat less than 6g of salt a day), especially from public restaurants, processed meats, canned foods, certain beverages, and bread with high levels of sodium. Eat and increase the amount of potassium in one’s diet. It is also important to eat foods that are lower in fat, as well as plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These healthy diet changes can help keep blood pressure low and protect against heart disease and stroke.

Limiting Alcohol Intake:  Drinking too much alcohol can raise one’s blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one.

Quit Smoking: Smoking cigarettes or tobacco can raise a person’s blood pressure, causing the arteries to become narrow, and putting them at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. For individuals who do not smoke, do not start. And for those who smoke, seek a doctor’s recommendation on how best to quit smoking.

Manage Stress: Learning how to relax and manage stress can improve a person’s emotional and physical health and lower high blood pressure. Stress management techniques include exercising, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, meditating, and connecting with other people in a support group are some ways to reduce stress.

Practicing and Getting Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep is important to an individual’s overall health, and enough sleep is part of keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Adults should aim to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep daily.

Monitoring Blood Pressure: This is the most recommended and important way to prevent high blood pressure. An individual must make sure that his/her blood pressure is measured regularly, either at the hospital or at home. High blood pressure often occurs with no symptoms, so only blood pressure readings will tell if the blood pressure is on the rise.

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