Risk factors

The risks associated with high blood pressure depend upon a combination of following risk factors :

  • Heredity : Hypertension tends to run in families. People whose parents have high blood pressure are more likely to develop it.
  • Race : African Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure than Caucasians.
  • Sex : Men have a greater risk of high blood pressure than women until age 55. During or after menopause women are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
  • Age : Blood pressure tends to increase with age, and older people are more likely to have high blood pressure. Children may also develop hypertension, which is usually due to chronic inflammation of kidneys.
  • Sodium (salt) sensitivity : Excessive sodium consumption increases blood pressure in some people.
  • Fatty foods : Consuming a diet rich in meat (red meat especially) and dairy products (such as cheese, ghee, full cream milk etc) raises the blood pressure as well as the cholesterol levels.
  • Overindulgence in alcohol and rich food.
  • Obesity : It has been established that a weight within the ‘desirable weight’ range reduces the chances of hypertension considerably and also that greater the weight gain, higher are the chances.
  • Some people experience high blood pressure only when they visit the doctor’s office. This condition is called “white-coat hypertension.”  
  • Mental state : People who suffer from continuous anxiety, worry or stress are more prone to develop high blood pressure.
  • Personality : Essential hypertension is usually associated with a distinctive personality type. The person is usually hyperactive, with great enthusiasm and increased mental and physical energy. Temperament wise they are restless and always look for work. Usually they are very sensitive and short-tempered.
  • Other factors include :
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • Pregnancy
    • Use of oral contraceptives and some other medications like corticosteroid, non-steroid inflammatory drugs etc.
    • Kidney disease
    • Endocrine diseases such as acromegaly, diabetes, thyrotoxicosis, hypothyroidism
    • Coarctation (narrowing) of aorta (blood vessel)