Hypertension (high blood pressure) is called the “silent killer” because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
Elevated blood pressure can worsen and develop into long-term high blood pressure as a health condition (hypertension). Hypertension can damage body organs.
What causes Hypertension?
Hypertension(High blood pressure) usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
If you have one of these conditions, you can take steps to manage it and lower your risk for high blood pressure.
Genes likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of high blood pressure share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk. The risk for high blood pressure can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking and eating an unhealthy diet.
What behaviors increase the risk for Hypertension?
Your lifestyle choices can increase your risk for high blood pressure. To reduce your risk, your doctor may recommend changes to your lifestyle. The good news is that healthy behaviors can lower your risk for high blood pressure.
- A diet that is too high in sodium and too low in potassium puts you at risk for high blood pressure.
- Eating too much sodium—an element in table salt—increases blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods.
- Not eating enough potassium—a mineral that your body needs to work properly—also can increase blood pressure. Potassium is found in many foods; bananas, potatoes, beans, and yogurt have high levels of potassium.
Getting regular physical activity helps your heart and blood vessels stay strong and healthy, which may help lower your blood pressure. Regular physical activity can also help you keep a healthy weight, which may also help lower your blood pressure.
Having obesity is having excess body fat. Having obesity or overweight also means your heart must work harder to pump blood and oxygen around your body. Over time, this can add stress to your heart and blood vessels. Obesity is linked to higher “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower “good” cholesterol levels.
In addition to high blood pressure, having obesity can also lead to heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.
Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure.
- Women should have no more than one drink a day.
- Men should have no more than two drinks a day.
Tobacco use increases your risk for high blood pressure. Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine raises blood pressure, and breathing in carbon monoxide—which is produced from smoking tobacco—reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.
Yoga Sequence to Reduce Hypertension
Activate the relaxation response in your mind and body in this calming yoga sequence that combines gentle yoga postures, breathing, and mindful awareness to help lower blood pressure.
Internal Medicine physician, Dr. Afua Agyarko, located in Spring, Texas, specializes in improving and maintaining your health through preventative care and the optimal treatment of hypertension.