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What is hypertension?

Hypertesion is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, aortic aneurysm and kidney disease.

Keeping blood pressure under control is vital for preserving health and reducing the risk of these dangerous conditions.

As a general guide:
  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you're over the age of 80)
  • ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

What are the causes of hypertension?

The cause of hypertension is often not known. In many cases, it is the result of an underlying condition.
Primary hypertension can result from multiple factors, including:

  • blood plasma volume
  • hormone activity in people who manage blood volume and pressure using medication
  • environmental factors, such as stress and lack of exercise
Secondary hypertension has specific causes and is a complication of another health problem.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common cause of high blood pressure, as the kidneys no longer filter out fluid. This excess fluid leads to hypertension.
Conditions that can lead to hypertension include:
  • Diabetes, due to kidney problems and nerve damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Pheochromocytoma, a rare cancer of an adrenal gland
  • Cushing syndrome that corticosteroid drugs can cause
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a disorder of the cortisol-secreting adrenal glands
  • Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
  • Hyperparathyroidism, which affects calcium and phosphorous levels
  • Pregnancy
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obesity

What are the risk factors for hypertension?

High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:

  • Ages (above 65y)
  • Race (African heritage, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites)
  • Family history
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not being physically active
  • Too much salt (sodium) in your diet
  • Too little potassium in your diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Stress
  • Certain chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea
  • Pregnancy

What are the lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure?

These lifestyle changes can help prevent and lower high blood pressure:

  • reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet
  • cut back on alcohol 
  • lose weight if you're overweight
  • exercise regularly
  • cut down on caffeine
  • stop smoking
Some people with high blood pressure may also need to take 1 or more medicines to stop their blood pressure getting too high.
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