Over 95% of all patients diagnosed with high blood pressure or ‘hypertension’, have ‘essential hypertension’. In other words the cause of the hypertension is not known and is likely that inherited genetic factors as well as environmental factors such your lifestyle, diet and daily exercise play a important role in influencing the symptoms of hypertension.
In each person these factors can have a different affect, and we still have a lot to learn about the genetic factors that cause hypertension, many of which are still being researched. So you can see how it is easy to have the ‘essential hypertension’ label.
As we mentioned earlier some 95% of all hypertensive are ‘essential’ so what about the remaining 5%? Well for these patients there is a specific cause and they are considered to have ‘secondary hypertension’. Such causes of this are kidney failure, hormonal conditions and a narrowing of the arteries to the kidneys. In most cases a G.P can detect these causes or there may be a referral to a nephrologist.
Are you at greater risk of high blood pressure with age?
Increased systolic blood pressure in more common as we get older.
Is high blood pressure genetic?
There is no single gene that is inherited from our parents that is solely responsible for hypertension. It would be more likely that many different genes are reacting with each other, combined with environmental factors that attribute to hypertension. So you can inherit a greater chance of developing hypertension, but this chance may only increase with the previously mentioned environmental issues.
What is the truth about hypertension and salt?
Many doctors do not believe that salt is the sole cause for many cases of hypertension, but they would all admit that it plays a very important role. It has been seen in cultures where there is a high amount of salt in the populations diet that there are increased numbers of hypertension and cases of heart attacks, strokes etc. But again if you take salt as a major player in the cause of hypertension and then add in the genetic and environmental factors we are already creating a potent recipe for hypertension.
Your blood pressure can be elevated short term by stress especially emotional stress. So stress can be ruled out as causing hypertension as it doesn’t cause persistent elevation of blood pressure. There are many ways to beat and reduce stress and in-turn reduce the short term affects on your blood pressure.
Caffeine also has an affect on blood pressure but only in the short term. So it would be wise not to consume anything with caffeine in it before having your blood pressure tested. Of course different people have different tolerances to caffeine so many people will not be affected as much as others taking the same amount.
Moderate consumption of alcohol can be beneficial and by moderate we speaking about two or less alcoholic drinks per day. So drinking in excess of these amounts will greatly influence the elevation of blood pressure. In many cases by removing alcohol from your daily routine or even reducing to one drink per day can reduce blood pressure levels significantly without the use of hypertensive drugs.
It is not fully understood how being overweight can affect blood pressure, but weight loss has a definitive effect on obese patients. Just a small amount of weight loss can boast multiple benefits; reduction of blood pressure, small amounts or no medication prescribed, lowered cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of a heart attack. Combining weight loss with a regular exercise plan will again increase the results of these benefits and in the long it is the healthiest way to reduce blood pressure for good!