The amount of force with which blood pushes against blood vessel walls is known as blood pressure. Blood is pumped into the arteries by your heart, which helps blood travel through your body. High blood pressure, or hypertension, makes the heart work harder to pump blood out to your body, making it dangerous. It contributes to stroke, hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis, the development of heart failure and kidney disease.
A reading of blood pressure has a top or systolic number and a bottom or diastolic number. The normal range is under 120/80, prehypertension is 120-139 over 80-89, state 1 high blood pressure is 140-159 over 90-99, state 2 high blood pressure is 160 and above over 100 and above and high blood pressure in people older than 60 is 150 and above over 90.
People with blood pressure higher than the normal range should talk to their doctor about the steps to take to lower it.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
Although the exact causes of high blood pressure aren’t known, there are several conditions and factors that might play a role in its development. These include being obese or overweight, smoking, too much salt in your diet, lack of physical activity, older age, stress, chronic kidney disease, too much alcohol consumption, family history of high blood pressure, thyroid or adrenal disorders, genetics, and sleep apnea.
In almost all of the high blood pressure cases reported in the United States, it is not known what the underlying cause is. This kind of high blood pressure is known as essential hypertension.
Even though it is a bit mysterious, certain risk factors have been linked to it. More men than women tend to have it and it also has a tendency to run in families. Race and age also play factors. Blacks in the U.S. are twice as likely as whites to have blood pressure which is high, even though the gap starts to narrow by about age forty-four. Past sixty-five, black women have the most incidences of high blood pressure.
Lifestyle and diet also influence essential hypertension greatly. The link between high blood pressure and salt is very interesting. In the northern islands of Japan, people living there eat a higher amount of salt per capita than anywhere else in the world and they have the highest cases of essential hypertension. People by contrast who put no salt in their food show just about no traces of essential hypertension.
Most people who have high blood pressure are sensitive to salt which means that anything more than the smallest amount of salt needed is too much and will raise their blood pressure. Other factors that increase the risk of essential hypertension include diabetes, obesity, insufficient calcium, potassium and magnesium, stress, low physical activity and chronic alcohol consumption.
When you can find a direct cause for high blood pressure, it is known as secondary hypertension. Among the causes that are known, kidney disease has the highest ranking. It can also start up due to tumors or other abnormalities which cause your adrenal glands to release an excess amount of the hormones which elevate blood pressure. Estrogen containing birth control pills and pregnancy can raise blood pressure, and so can medications which constrict blood vessels.