As weight related illnesses, and conditions such as coronary heart disease, obesity and diabetes become more and more prevalent within society, so does the trend of high blood pressure. This decrease in heart health for the general population is a concern that must be addressed by people on a personal level. There are a number of genetic predispositions that may lead to a higher likelihood of a person developing high blood pressure, however the positive news is that high blood pressure can be reduced or prevented by simple lifestyle changes and adjustments. This article will look at some of the factors which lead to the development of high blood pressure and explain what blood pressure is in the first place.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the term used to describe the pressure of blood flow within the body. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure is 120/80. Prehypertension is anywhere from between 121/81 – 139/89 and high blood pressure is considered anything higher than 140/90. If your blood pressure is considered to be high, you are said to have ‘hypertension’. It is vital for blood pressure to remain and exist at a healthy level due to the regulation of blood flow around the body. Having high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or your chances of having a stroke. Despite the dangerous consequences that result from high blood pressure or hypertension, it doesn’t usually show any easily identifiable symptoms until it is too late.
What factors lead to hypertension?
For some people, their risk of developing high blood pressure may be dependent on certain genetics that they may have. A family history of heart problems can increase your risk of developing similar conditions; however that doesn’t mean that it is an inevitable ending. Numerous lifestyle choices can also cause high blood pressure or hypertension. Smoking cigarettes on a regular basis can increase your blood pressure, due to the carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals present in their ingredients. Caffeine also stimulates the heart and can have the effect of increasing blood pressure over time.
High blood pressure can also be induced by a diet that is high in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt. These substances can be deposited against the walls of vital blood vessels and accumulate to form a plaque known as atheroma. Atheroma can harden and, therefore, restrict blood flow through certain regions of the heart. This restriction of blood flow can lead to hypertension and, therefore, increase your risk of having a heart attack. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids (oily fish) can have beneficial effects against the build-up of plaque and LDL cholesterol, thus aiding the reduction of high blood pressure and the risks of developing heart disease.