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Research on the Causes of High Blood Pressure

Updated on October 14, 2012
High blood pressure is also known as hypertension
High blood pressure is also known as hypertension | Source


High blood pressure, also known as hypertension is a common risk factor in the occurrence of strokes and the development of heart disease. Research into the condition has established that there are two main types of high blood pressure. Firstly, essential hypertension also known as primary hypertension accounts for about 95% of cases of the condition. and there are often a combination of factors causing or contributing to the condition.Primary hypertension is a medical condition in itself whereas secondary hypertension is a symptom of another primary medical condition and accounts for about 5% of cases.

Primary hypertension affects about 72 million Americans whereas it is estimated that despite extensive research in approximately 90% of cases the cause is unknown. On the other hand , there are associated factors which contribute to primary hypertension and may indeed exacerbate it.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

Although as started above, the causes of hypertension are often unknown there are certain associated factors which exacerbate the condition in individuals that are predisposed to it. The consumption of too much salt in the diet is a well-known factor associated with hypertension. Research has shown that primary hypertension only occurs in cultures where a lot of salt is consumed in the diet and may be particularly associated with hypertension in older people, the obese and those with a genetic predisposition to the condition.

The results of the research into salt and high blood pressure are somewhat puzzling because even though there is a direct relationship between the amount of salt consumed in the diet of a particular culture, salt intake intake is considered to be a risk factor rather than a direct cause.In one part of Japan for example there is a very high incidence of hypertension associated with the high salt intake of the population there.However some studies suggest that primary hypertension only occurs in cultures that have a high intake of salt.This seems to suggest that salt intake is a cause of hypertension rather than a factor associated with it

Genetic factors are also though to play a role in primary hypertension but research studies have yet to identify the gene that is responsible. It is estimated that 30% of essential hypertension is genetic as some races are more susceptible to it than others. For example, research has established that Caucasians and Asians are less susceptible to hypertension than African-Americans.

A hereditary predisposition to the condition is also a factor as primary hypertension is inclined to run in families.

There is also a characteristic lack of elasticity in the arteries of those with primary hypertension. Research has not established any particular cause for this but it is often associated with obesity,lack of exercise and salt intake and aging.

Other Factors Associated with High Blood Pressure

Although research has failed to reveal the causes of primary or essential hypertension, there are many risk factors known to be associated with it. Smoking and obesity are lifestyle factors that increase the risk of developing this condition as are alcohol, stress,aging and kidney disease. In the case of kidney disease however, this type of hypertension is secondary hypertension because it is a consequence of the primary medical disorder of the kidneys.

High blood pressure can also occur as a side-effect of birth control pills that contain estrogen and some other medicines, such as cold remedies and diet pills.High blood pressure also often occurs as a complication of pregnancy.

Research has also shown that the prevalence of essential hypertension is greater in populations that are less educated and from lower socioeconomic groups.Generally speaking, it has been noted in some research findings that men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women are although this varies depending on the ethnic group and the age of the population studied.As well as the association with salt in the diet, there is also a suggestion that a high-fat diet can be associated with a greater risk of primary hypertension.

Summary and Conclusion

In summary, there is no known cause for primary hypertension in 90% of cases although salt intake,obesity,lack of exercise, aging, alcohol, diet, and stress are considered to be contributing factors which increase the risk of developing this condition. Sometimes hypertension can be a side-effect of certain medications and there is significant research evidence to confirm that one can be genetically predisposed to developing it and that it is more prevalent in certain racial or socioeconomic groups.

Finally, the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent or manage essential hypertension have benefits for health in general and it is well worthwhile adopting some of these lifestyle changes to avoid stroke or heart disease which is the possible outcome of untreated high blood pressure

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    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 4 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      Cheers for your comment DDE and thank you for taking the time to read this hub.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Research on the Causes of High Blood Pressure a well-researched hub and one should pay attention to their blood pressure results.

    • Chinaimport profile image

      Kamal Mohta 5 years ago from Guangzhou

      Good article explaining all reasons that cause hypertension specially salt intake and genetic factors. I will look forward to more articles on related topic.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      I am glad you found this useful Angela Kane. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment so positively.

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Great article and information. My blood pressure has been high lately, I prefer to get it down naturally through diet and exercise so I will not have to take medication.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      Glad you liked this hub and I hope all goes well with your mother's health.

    • everythingdazzles profile image

      Janelle 5 years ago from Houston

      Thanks for the information. My mother was diagnosed with having high blood pressure this year.