Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
Some people are more likely to have high blood pressure, and this can be because of things you can’t control, or because of lifestyle choices you make.
- Age – The risk of high blood pressure increases with time. Men usually develop it around age 45 and women after age 65.
- Race – High blood pressure and serious complications are more common for African Americans.
- Family History – High blood pressure tends to run in families.
- Certain Chronic Conditions – Kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea can raise your blood pressure.
- Pregnancy – Your blood pressure may be raised during pregnancy.
- Being Overweight – The more you weigh, the more blood your body has to pump to perform normal tasks like carrying oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. That more blood that’s pumping, the higher the pressure.
- Not Being Physically Active – Not being active usually makes your heart rate higher, which means your heart’s working harder than it should and pumping more.
- Tobacco Use – Smoking and chewing tobacco raise your blood pressure temporarily, but it can also damage your arteries which raises your blood pressure in the long-term.
- Too Much Salt – When you eat too much salt, you also gain water-weight, which increases your blood pressure.
- Too Much Alcohol – Heavy drinkers can damage their heart over time.
- Too Little Potassium – Potassium helps balance sodium in your body.
- Too Little Vitamin D – Not enough vitamin D in your diet might affect an enzyme your body makes that affects your blood pressure.
If you have some of these other risk factors, your doctor may set your blood pressure target lower.
Other Causes of High Blood Pressure
If you have secondary high blood pressure, it’s caused by an underlying condition. It usually appears suddenly and goes away when the condition has been treated. These things might cause it:
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney problems
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Thyroid problems
- Birth defects in your blood vessels
- Certain meds, like birth control pills, anti-depressants, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs
- Illegal drugs like cocaine
Reasons for High Blood Pressure After Meds
Some find that even though they’ve gotten on a medication, their blood pressure is still not low enough. If you find that your blood pressure is higher than normal at certain times, think about these factors.
Some of your lifestyle choices could be raising your blood pressure.
- Quit smoking, and cut back on alcohol and caffeine.
- Watch your diet.
- Get active.
- Make sure you’re taking your meds exactly as your doctor prescribed.
- Visit your doctor for regular checkups.
Believe it or not, studies show that the season can have an effect on your blood pressure. It’s more likely to go back to normal levels in the spring and summer than it is in the winter, no matter if you live in a very cold climate or a very warm one.
Perhaps it’s because it’s harder to get out and exercise and because of the extra pounds you can pack on during the holiday season. Either way, this means in the winter, it might be necessary to take higher doses of meds or even different drugs. Talk to your doctor if you notice this seasonal difference in your readings.
Did this raise go hand-in-hand with a new pill you started? Did you get a cold and start taking some over-the-counter meds you don’t normally?
Check to make sure that what you’re taking isn’t to blame. And talk to your doctor about the risk or if you should make changes to your prescriptions.
If your blood pressure is still strangely high, your doctor might need to adjust your meds. And if this still doesn’t help, it might be a sign of something more serious, like kidney problems or a chronic condition. Then, it’s time for a doctor’s appointment and maybe some tests to find the cause.