What Causes Hypertension?

Normal blood pressure readings will fall below 120/80, while higher results over time can indicate hypertension. In most cases, the underlying cause of hypertension is unknown. The top number (systolic) shows the pressure when your heart beats. The lower number (diastolic) measures pressure at rest between heartbeats, when the heart refills with blood. Occasionally, kidney or adrenal gland disease can lead to hypertension

The Hypertension Danger Zone:

You have high blood pressure if readings average 140/90 or higher -- for either number -- though you may still have no symptoms. At 180/110 and higher, you may be having a hypertensive crisis. Rest for a few minutes and take your blood pressure again. If it is still very high, call 911. A hypertensive crisis can lead to a stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, or loss of consciousness. Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis can include a severe headache, anxiety, nosebleeds, and feeling short of breath.



Who Gets High Blood Pressure?  

Up to the age of 45, more men have high blood pressure than women. It becomes more common for both men and women as they age, and more women have hypertension by the time they reach 65. You have a greater risk if a close family member has high blood pressure or if you are diabetic. About 60% of people with diabetes have high blood pressure.

Hypertension and Alcohol:

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Guidelines from the American Heart Association state that if you drink alcohol, you should limit the amount to no more than two drinks a day for men, or one a day for women. They define a drink as one 12-ounce beer, four ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or one ounce of 100-proof spirits.  

Hypertension and Caffeine:

If caffeine can make you jittery, can it also raise your blood pressure? It might have a temporary effect, but studies haven't shown any link between caffeine and the development of hypertension. You can safely drink one or two cups a day, according to the American Heart Association.

Hypertension and Pregnancy:

Gestational hypertension is a kind of high blood pressure that occurs in the second half of pregnancy. Without treatment, it may lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia that endangers both the mother and baby. The condition can limit blood and oxygen flow to the baby and can affect the mother's kidneys and brain. After the baby is born, the mother's blood pressure usually returns to its normal level.


Hypertension and Medicine

Cold and flu medicines that contain decongestants are one of several classes of medicine that can cause your blood pressure to rise. Others include NSAID pain relievers, steroids, diet pills, birth control pills, and some antidepressants. If you have high blood pressure, talk to you doctor about what medicines and supplements you are taking that may affect blood pressure.