There are many factors that can contribute to having high blood pressure. While it is no secret that hypertension can increase the risk for a number of other health issues, such as heart attack or stroke, there are many other conditions that can be associated with it.
Risk Factors You Can’t Control
When we consider the common factors that can lead to hypertension, it is important to know that many of the factors are outside of one’s control. For example, a family history of high blood pressure may greatly increase the likelihood of one developing it at some point in their life, as the condition may be genetic. Additionally, an increase in age may also increase one’s risk regardless of family history.
Gender can also play a role. Under the age of 64, men are more likely than women to develop high blood pressure but over the age of 65 women are more susceptible. When it comes to race, African Americans face a greater risk compared to other races.
These different pre-disposing factors cannot be altered based on circumstances of life and birth, but there are other factors that are within your scope of control.
Risk Factors You CAN Control
1. Diet and Exercise: Most notable among controllable factors are lifestyle choices such as those that pertain to diet and exercise. Eating an unhealthy diet that is high in saturated fat may increase one’s risk. Additionally, a lack of physical activity that stresses and engages the circulatory system may lead to a lack of proper circulation, thus increasing one’s blood pressure.
2. Overweight and Obesity: Both diet and a lack of exercise are associated with increased body weight and obesity, which are proven to increase blood pressure. While controlling one’s weight is important for health for a number of reasons, stress on the circulatory system is one of the most significant.
3. Tobacco and Substance Use: The circulatory system may also be stressed by excessive alcohol intake, tobacco use and high cholesterol, all of which are also linked to a poor diet high in sugar and saturated fats.
4. Stress: Stress has also been linked to high blood pressure as it causes an increase in cortisol, stressing the circulatory system in and of itself. High-stress levels in combination with any of the other risk factors listed above greatly increase one’s risk across the board.
The most effective way to reduce one’s risk is by following the recommendations of one’s physician when considering a regular exercise and diet routine. Exercise should be done at least three to four days a week, working both the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. One’s diet should be low in saturated fat and contain the necessary vitamins and nutrients for regular growth, maintenance and development.
If you have high blood pressure or any of these other risk factors, it’s important to check with your physician to ensure it is safe for you to exercise prior to starting.
The care team at Durham Nephrology have been caring for patients with kidney diseases and high blood pressure for more than 30 years. We have two convenient locations in Durham and Oxford, North Carolina. To schedule an appointment, call (919) 477-3005.