High blood pressure – symptoms, types and associated risk factors

High blood pressure causes and types

High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. This is one of the most common conditions. In this condition the long – term force of your blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause you some health problems such as heart disease. The amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries and the amount of blood your heart pumps are factors that are determining the blood pressure. You will have higher blood pressure as the more blood your heart pumps and narrower your arteries. Also there are many people who have high blood pressure for years and they do not feel any symptoms. Even if you do not have symptoms, damage to your blood vessels and heart continues and it can be detected. When you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, then this is increasing your risk of health problems such as stroke and heart attack. This condition generally develops over many years and it affects nearly everyone eventually. The high blood pressure can be easily detected. When you have discovered that you have high blood pressure, then you can work with your doctor to control it.

Symptoms of high blood pressure

Most people who have high blood pressure do not have signs or symptoms even if their blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. There are some people who have high blood pressure and have nosebleeds, shortness of breath or headaches but the mentioned signs and symptoms are not specific and they usually do not happen until the high blood pressure has reached a severe or life – threatening stage.

There are 2 types of high blood pressure:

  1. Primary (essential) hypertension: For most people who have high blood pressure, there is not identifiable cause for this condition. This type of high blood pressure tends to develop gradually over many years.
  2. Secondary hypertension: There are some people who have high blood pressure which is caused by some underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure tends to appear suddenly and it causes higher high blood pressure than the primary hypertension causes. We know that there are many conditions and medications which can lead to secondary hypertension and they include:
  • Alcohol abuse or chronic alcohol use
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines
  • Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over – the – counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
  • Certain defects in blood vessels you are born with (congenital)
  • Thyroid problems
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Kidney problems
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

High blood pressure causes and types

High blood pressure risk factors

Here are some risk factors for high blood pressure:

  • Family history: Many families have high blood pressure and it tends to run in their families. [1]
  • Race: Black people are having increased chances of getting high blood pressure and often they develop it an earlier age compared to white people. Some serious complications such as kidney failure, heart attack and stroke which are common in black people. [2]
  • Age: As people are aging, they are having increased risk of developing high blood pressure. Through early middle age or about age 45, this condition is more common in men than woman. Women are more likely to develop this condition after age 65. [3]
  • Being overweight or obese: It is known fact that the more we weigh, the more blood you need to supply nutrients and oxygen to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels is increasing, so does the pressure on your artery walls. [4]
  • Using tobacco: Chewing or smoking tobacco immediately raises your blood pressure temporarily but the chemicals which are present in the tobacco can damage the lining of the artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow which is increasing your blood pressure. Also the secondhand smoke can increase your risk of high blood pressure. [5]
  • When you are not physically active: People, who are inactive, tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate is, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger and the force on your arteries. Also when you have lack of physical activity, then this can increase your risk of being overweight. [6]


[1] Liu M, He Y, Jiang B, et al. Association between family history and hypertension among Chinese elderly. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015;94(48):e2226.

[2] Fuchs FD. Why do black Americans have higher prevalence of hypertension? Hypertension. 2011;57(3):379-80.

[3] Pinto E. Blood pressure and ageing. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2007;83(976):109–14.

[4] Aronow WS. Association of obesity with hypertension. Annals of Translational Medicine. 2017;5(17):350.

[5] Primatesta P, Falaschetti E, Gupta S, et al. Association between smoking and blood pressure: Evidence from the health survey for England. Hypertension. 2001;37(2):187-93.

[6] Diaz KM, Shimbo D. Physical activity and the prevention of hypertension. Current Hypertension Reports. 2013;15(6):659–68.


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