Hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure, occurs when the force of blood pressing against the blood vessel walls is greater than normal. Blood is pumped into the arteries and throughout the body by the heart muscle. High blood pressure puts a strain on the heart because it is forced to work harder to get blood throughout the body. This contributes to a condition known as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, as well as kidney disease, stroke, and eventually heart failure.
Three biological factors trigger blood pressure: how flexible and open the blood vessels are, how fast the heart beats, and how much blood is pumped through vessels. High blood pressure occurs when there is an imbalance of chemicals that disturb these processes. Researchers at Saint George's University of London discovered a new possible biological trigger for hypertension. The 2012 study found a type of protein involved in keeping arteries relaxed called Kv7.4 may be responsible for kick-starting high blood pressure by slowing down activity in the renal artery that supplies blood to the kidneys.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
A study published in the journal Hypertension found the chemical bisphenol A or BPA can raise blood pressure. This chemical is commonly found in plastic containers that hold food and drinks. The study concluded bisphenol A can seep into foods and beverages and enter the body. Other studies have shown being chronically exposed to this chemical is linked to an increase in high blood pressure and heart disease. The best way to reduce the risk of exposure to bisphenol A is to choose plastic products specifically labeled 'BPA-free' or opt for non-plastic containers such as those made from glass, stainless steel, or porcelain, whenever possible.
Some experts agree eating too many foods high in refined sugar may increase an individual's blood pressure more than sodium. In particular, processed forms of fructose, not the naturally occurring kind found in fruits, may be the culprit. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any sugars added to food or drinks that are not naturally occurring. A sixteen-ounce can of soda can sometimes contain more than nine teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than six teaspoons of refined sugar daily for women and nine for men.
Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when an individual stops breathing and then starts again at night while they are sleeping. A sleep apnea patient may stop breathing as much as one hundred times in one night. If left untreated, sleep apnea may lead to high blood pressure. According to the National Sleep Foundation, when an individual's breathing is interrupted, the oxygen levels in the body fall, causing the brain to signal the nervous system to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and heart, which tightens up blood vessels. Individuals suffering from sleep apnea must receive the appropriate treatment as soon as possible so they can breathe normally while sleeping and avoid potential complications, including chronic high blood pressure.
According to a study conducted at the University of Chicago, there is a direct link between loneliness and high blood pressure in individuals over fifty years old. The study showed blood pressure increased within two years of the study and continued to increase four years later. Doctor Irene S. Levine, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine stated, "Conversely when you are with close friends and have social supports you can depend on, you tend to feel more relaxed." Thus, those dealing with high blood pressure may want to look at adjusting their social calendar in an effort to see if this alleviates their issues. Of course, if they are introverted, it's important for them to avoid feeling overwhelmed, so they should take action carefully.
According to recently conducted studies and research, individuals who take acetaminophen at least semi-regularly are at an increased risk of developing hypertension compared to those who do not. Other over-the-counter drugs that may raise blood pressure are ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Certain anti-depressants, such as Venlafaxine, Desipramine, and Bupropion have also been linked to high blood pressure, as have decongestants and inhalers. With this in mind, individuals dealing with hypertension may want to check with their doctor to evaluate what medication they are taking and if any of them may be responsible for this increase in their blood pressure. If possible, doctors can make the necessary adjustments in the patient's medication to reduce the severity or eliminate this side effect.
According to a 2007 study published in Hypertension, high blood pressure is linked to hypothyroidism, which is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone for the patient's body to function the way it should. The study also determined hyperthyroidism, or the production of too much thyroid hormone, may also be associated with high blood pressure. A third condition known as hyperparathyroidism that affects hormone regulation may also result in high blood pressure because it results in too much calcium in the blood. In short, the thyroid gland is a crucial part of the body and has an integral effect on an individual's blood pressure.
Eating a diet high in inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, wheat, and refined sugar may contribute to high blood pressure as they cause inflammation in the blood vessels, which makes them narrow and harder for the heart to push blood through. In place of fast foods and deep-fried foods, individuals should opt for organic cuts of chicken and turkey with steamed vegetables and a baked sweet potato, particularly if they are dealing with hypertension.
They can enjoy oats for with berries and flax seeds for breakfast and a big green salad for lunch with olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing. Eating healthy foods and reducing the consumption of fast foods and similar options is crucial, since not only can they increase blood pressure, but they can also put individuals at an extremely high risk of many health conditions, such as a heart attack.
Excessive sodium levels may contribute to high blood pressure in some individuals. According to the American Heart Association, controlling one's dietary sodium intake means more than not adding salt to foods. Up to seventy-five percent of the sodium individuals consume on a daily basis is hidden in processed foods, such as soups, condiments, canned soups, prepared mixes, and frozen foods.
Thus, individuals should be sure to always read food labels and look out for the hidden ingredients that indicate they are full of sodium. Overall, individuals should steer clear of consuming lots of processed foods, but where this cannot be avoided, they can look for processed food marked 'low sodium' or those with similar labels.
Nicotine has been shown to increase hypertension and heart rate. It also narrows blood vessels and hardens their walls, making blood more likely to clot. This increases the risk of chronic high blood pressure, stroke, and a heart attack. Individuals looking to break their smoking habit can consult a medical professional about nicotine patches to help wean themselves away. Joining a therapy group and avoiding situations or individuals who trigger the feeling of needing to smoke may also help. Some individuals find it helps them to simply not to carry a lighter. Many also benefit from keeping their hands and mouth busy by chewing gum or fidgeting with a pen.
Adrenal Gland Tumors
Secondary hypertension can be caused by an adrenal gland tumor that influences the hormone levels in an affected individual's body. A tumor that develops in one or both of the adrenal glands can cause healthy adrenal cells to produce an excessive quantity of aldosterone or the hormone that influences the levels of sodium in an individual's body. High aldosterone causes the patient's kidneys to hold on to water and salt while simultaneously excreting too much of an essential electrolyte called potassium. This malfunction disrupts the individual's healthy fluid balance and raises their blood pressure.
A different type of tumor that may also occur in one or both of an individual's adrenal glands is called a pheochromocytoma. This type of adrenal gland tumor can increase a patient's production of noradrenaline and adrenaline. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are the hormones associated with an individual's fight or flight response. Both adrenaline and noradrenaline are hormones that cause short-term blood pressure spikes in the affected individual that can lead to long-term hypertension.
Congenital Blood Vessel Defects
An individual who has congenital blood vessel defects commonly experiences hypertension as a result of their disease. Most blood vessel defects an individual is born with involve problems with the main blood vessels that stem out of the patient's heart. Coarctation of the aorta is a defect that causes the major artery that moves blood from the heart to the rest of the body or the aorta to become too narrow and causes an increase the patient's blood pressure. Patent ductus arteriosus is a defect where the individual's ductus arteriosus never closes up. This malfunction causes some of their blood to skip the route to the lungs for oxygen.
Patent ductus arteriosus can result in pulmonary hypertension or high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries that take blood to the lungs. Truncus arteriosus is a defect of the pulmonary arteries and aorta that also causes an excess of blood flow into the patient's lungs. The excess blood flow results in high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries can be life-threatening. It is easy for congenital blood vessel defects to disrupt the healthy blood volume balance in the body, which results in blood pressure issues.
An individual who experiences chronic stress can have chronic hypertension as a result. When an individual is exposed to a stressful situation, the body produces an influx of several stress hormones. These hormones are produced to prepare the body for a possible fight or flight response and to maximize performance should this type of response be necessary. The stress hormones produced in stressful situations do several things to the body, including increasing the heart rate and narrowing the blood vessels. While a stress response is only meant to have such physical effects temporarily, it can also result in chronic hypertension.
This long-term effect happens when an individual is frequently in stressful situations and becomes adapted to the stress reaction that increases their blood pressure. This adaptation causes them to be sensitive to familiar conditions that may become stressful, causing a release of stress hormones in situations where non-affected individuals would not typically experience a stress response. The more an individual is stressed, the more time their blood pressure is elevated.
High blood pressure can be triggered in an individual dealing with obesity as a result of their high ratio of fat to other tissues in the body. Excessive amounts of adipose or fat tissue may not have much of a practical benefit for an individual's body, but they do require all of the same things any other tissues need. The adipose tissue requires a constant supply of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to live. Because the excess tissue requires these things on top of the functional body tissues, the heart, blood, and blood vessels have to work together to circulate more blood to supply this extra fat tissue.
The heart has to take on an increased workload to get the blood through all of the additional ancestry vessels that supply the excess fatty tissues. Blood volume has to increase to sustain homeostasis in the body, and increased blood volume puts more pressure on the walls of the arteries. This mechanism causes the individual to have chronic high blood pressure due to their obesity.
Living a sedentary lifestyle can cause an individual to develop chronic high blood pressure. Hypertension caused by being too sedentary occurs through a couple of different mechanisms. Statistically, individuals who have a more sedentary lifestyle are more likely to have a body mass index in the overweight or obese range. This high body mass index occurs in sedentary individuals because their body burns fewer calories than they are consuming on a regular basis. This imbalance causes the individual to be overweight or obese and often means high blood pressure.
Individuals who are more sedentary are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which results in high blood sugar levels that lead to chronic hypertension. Individuals with a sedentary lifestyle also experience issues related to low cardiovascular demand due to sitting in one place for extended periods and lack of physical activity, which also leads to high blood pressure