What causes high blood pressure was the question I put to my doctor on a recent visit. I had been experiencing tightness in the chest, especially after strenuous exercise like bell ringing or running up hills.
I was told there is no underlying cause in 90% of people with high blood pressure but a number of factors can contribute towards it.
Age: as we get older we are at greater risk
Family: the condition can often run in the family and as my father suffered from it I am particularly keen to keep my blood pressure down.
Origin: people from certain parts of the world such as Africa or the Caribbean are more prone.
Salt: avoid eating too much salt (my father had high blood pressure and I remember him always sprinkling salt on his food). Try my blood pressure diet.
Lack of Exercise: Regular exercise helps to keep us healthy in body, mind and spirit.
Weight: keeping your weight down is important and can be achieved through diet and exercise. Try my fast weight loss diet
Smoking: is bad for us on many levels and high blood pressure is just one of the hazards. I used to smoke but gave up many years ago and very glad I did.
Excess alcohol: Keep your drinking within the recommended guidelines. I love a drink of wine at meal times or a beer down the pub with friends after our bell ringing practise but I always keep it to a moderate level.
Stress: this is one of the most difficult causes and the least easy to deal with. A job can be stressful as can the commute to work. Relationships can also cause stress especially in a marriage. Changing jobs and partners is not something to be undertaken lightly or easily. I have found that giving more of me to my job or relationships often helps.
For 10% of people what causes high blood pressure can be a range of diseases
Arteries that have narrowed and restrict blood flow
Painkillers such as Ibuprofen
Recreational drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines
Certain herbal supplements
There is little we can do about our age, ethnic origins or current and family medical history other than be aware of them but we can improve our health by addressing the other risks.