7 Surprising Causes Of High Blood Pressure

September 18, 2019

7 Surprising Causes Of High Blood Pressure. Quick -– what causes high blood pressure? The first culprits that pop into your mind
are likely to be: eating too much salt, being stressed out all the time, and alcohol abuse. And you would be right. But there are also less obvious causes of
high blood pressure, a condition that affects about one in three, or 78 million, adults
in the U.S. “The best data demonstrates that hypertension
is almost unavoidable as we age,” says Clyde Yancy, MD, chief of cardiology and associate
director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute in Chicago, Illinois. “Once we reach age 55, we have a 90 percent
chance of becoming hypertensive.” Yet that inevitability doesn’t mean we can’t
do something about it. Step one is to modify your lifestyle: lose
weight, exercise, and eat a wholesome diet, explains Dr. Yancy. Another thing you can do: Get to know these
less well-known blood pressure factors: 1. BPAs. A new study published in the journal Hypertension
says the chemical BPA found in the lining of some of cans and plastic bottles could
seep into food and drink and raise blood pressure. Previous studies have shown that chronic exposure
to BPA is associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. This newest study is the first to show a direct
and quick impact on blood pressure levels. Though it’s too soon to comment about the
certainty about the consequences, Dr. Yancy notes, “we should continue to think about
this carefully.” In the meantime, reduce your risk by using
BPA-free products, eat less canned food, and opt for non-plastic containers, like glass,
porcelain or stainless steel, when serving hot foods and liquid. Also, avoid microwaving plastic food containers
made with BPA, as the chemical may break down over time from repeated use at high temperatures. 2. Sugar. Too much of the sweet stuff may not just be
bad for your waistline—it can be bad for your blood pressure, too. In fact, sugar may hurt your heart health
more than salt, say many experts. Recent research published in several medical
journals suggests that dietary guidelines for treating high blood pressure should focus
on reducing the amount of added sugars. They blame fructose in particular, the sugar
that is generally added to processed foods and drinks, for being the major player in
the development of hypertension. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends
women eat no more than six teaspoons (100 calories) of added sugar per day and no more
than nine (150 calories) for men. For example, just one 16-ounce can of non-diet
soda contains more than nine teaspoons of added sugar! A good place to start reducing consumption
would be to limit processed foods, which are most likely to contain high amounts of the
more-dangerous type of sugar. 3. Sleep apnea. Turns out this common disorder, which often
goes undiagnosed, leads snoring, restless nights—and possibly, elevated blood pressure. That’s because, says the National Sleep
Foundation, when your breathing is interrupted, the oxygen level in your body falls. Your brain then sends signals through your
nervous system to increase the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain, thereby tightening
up your blood vessels. Frequent drops in your blood oxygen level,
along with reduced quality of sleep, can also trigger the release of stress hormones, which
raise your heart rate and increase your risk for high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes (like losing weight if you
are overweight), mouthpieces, surgery and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep
apnea. 4. Loneliness. Spending time with friends has been linked
to better health and well-being, but the flip side of that—feeling lonesome—takes a
toll not only on your confidence, happiness and stress levels, but also on your blood
pressure. So says a five-year study at the University
of Chicago, which, for the first time, showed a direct correlation between loneliness and
high blood pressure among people 50 years old and older. Blood pressure increase was first observed
two years into the study, and continued to increase until four years later. “Conversely, when you’re with close friends
and have social supports you can depend on, you tend to feel more relaxed,” says friendship
expert Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., who is also a professor of psychiatry at the NYU School
of Medicine. “Set aside time for friendships, but recognize
that not all of them last forever. That’s why it’s important to cultivate
new friendships, too,” she says. 5. Hot tubs and saunas. Ahhh… that heat feels good, especially when
it’s cold outside or your muscles and joints ache. But beware of hot tubs and saunas if you already
have high blood pressure, says the AHA. Since the heat from hot tubs and saunas causes
blood vessels to open up (similar to what happens during normal activities, like a brisk
walk), the AHA says that if your doctor has told you to avoid moderate exercise, you should
use caution when considering hot tubs and saunas. Saunas are particularly problematic, since
the temperature is difficult to control, he says. “If you do use a hot tub, set the temperature
to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and be careful you don’t overheat.” 6. Medications. Prescription and over-the-counter medications
are designed to enhance your health, right? Yes, but certain drugs could be putting your
blood pressure at risk, finds a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who take
acetaminophen (Tylenol) daily are more likely to develop high blood pressure than those
who don’t take it. Also, certain pain and anti-inflammatory medications
can raise your blood pressure, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). And if you take an antidepressant, check your
blood pressure regularly—Venlafaxine (Effexor), Bupropion (Wellbutrin), and Desipramine (Norpramin)
have been shown to raise blood pressure. Even certain herbal supplements, like ginseng,
licorice and ephedra (ma huang), may have the same effect. Decongestants (or medications that contain
them), as well as inhalers (both prescribed and over-the-counter) can also promote a higher
blood pressure, warns Dr. Yancy. Always remember to check with your doctor
or pharmacist if you’re concerned about your medications and your blood pressure. 7. Thyroid problems. A 2007 study published in the Journal Hypertension
reported a correlation between hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce
enough thyroid hormone) and high blood pressure. When compared with volunteers, patients with
the condition had significantly higher blood pressure readings. Conversely, hyperthyroidism (when there’s
too much hormone produced) can also result in higher-than-normal blood pressure readings. And then there’s a condition known as hyperparathyroidism,
one type of which may be accountable for a high reading as well. This parathyroid condition affects hormone
regulation and can result in too much calcium in the blood which has been associated with
elevated blood pressure, says the Mayo Clinic.

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