1.     Age

As you become older, your blood pressure rises. When you reach the age of 40, your chances of developing high blood pressure skyrocket. This is due to the fact that as you become older, your arteries tighten. When a result, as you approach 40, it’s a good idea to check your blood pressure on a frequent basis. Pay special attention if your blood pressure was already a little elevated when you were younger.

A blood pressure reading of 140/90 or higher is also considered high blood pressure in adults over the age of 70. It’s possible that your blood pressure is higher at times. This is dependent on your unique circumstances, such as whether or not you are taking medicine. Your doctor will establish your ideal blood pressure and alter your medication accordingly.

2.     Overweight

Being overweight puts a strain on the heart and circulation. Severely overweight people are three times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than normal-weight people. Abdominal circumference, in particular, plays a major role: abdominal fat promotes inflammatory processes in the body. These in turn promote vascular calcification, also called atherosclerosis.

What can you do about it? Exercise definitely helps to get rid of the extra weight. But the most important thing is to reduce your daily calorie intake. To do this, you do not need to follow a strict diet: a Mediterranean diet (lots of vegetables, unsaturated fatty acids, fish, and lean meats) and your heart will thank you.

3.     Poor sleep

People who sleep little or sleep poorly, for example, because of late work, snoring partners, or sleep apnea, suffer significantly more often from high blood pressure than others.

Lack of sleep during the day causes the body to switch to a fight or flight mode (i.e., stress) more often and can change the hormone secretion in the adrenal gland. In the case of sleep apnea, blood pressure also shoots up with each breathing interruption.

To keep hypertension at bay, you should allow yourself enough time to sleep, about 8 hours, and do so as regularly as possible. Lavender oil, warm milk at bedtime, earplugs, relaxing audiobooks, or therapy for sleep apnea can improve your sleep.

4.     Lack of physical activity

If you move too little in everyday life, you risk that the blood vessels will stiffen. Especially in combination with obesity, high blood pressure is usually pre-programmed. Regular exercise keeps blood vessels elastic, improves blood flow, and has a positive effect on blood lipid levels.

What can you do about it? 2.5 to 5 hours a week you should provide a moderate workout. At first, it is not so important whether you train a little bit every day or a few times a week but with longer sessions. If your circulation can handle it, you can challenge it with interval training, for example.

If you already have high blood pressure or have not done sports for a long time, you should definitely discuss your training intensity with your doctor beforehand!

5.     Stress

Stress works in the body in a similar way to the body’s reaction to a saber-toothed tiger in the Stone Age. Admittedly, it is no longer about bare survival, but perhaps about a job interview.

However, the body reacts the same way, the so-called autonomic nervous system is stimulated, and the hormone balance is confused. If you suffer from chronic stress, it can also lead to increased blood pressure in the long term.

What can you do about it? Getting less stressed is easier said than done. But the quest for relaxation will be the best investment of your life! Whether it’s yoga, cooking, listening to metal, or having sex, if you feel more relaxed afterward than before, you should definitely do it more often. Coffee, on the other hand, is counterproductive if you’re already stressed out anyway.

6.     Too much salt

The salt you eat ends up in your blood and makes it salty. To compensate for this, the saltier blood draws water from the surrounding tissue into the vessels, and the blood volume increases.

More blood puts more pressure on the vessels, which leads to high blood pressure. Too much salt is also harmful to your intestinal flora, which can also affect blood pressure.

What can you do about it? Save on salt. The WHO recommends 5 to 6 grams of table salt a day, which is just over a teaspoon. With processed products, this is possible. The solution? Cook yourself, without much salting, but with more herbs.

Read more: am I eating too much salt?

7.     Alcohol consumption

Alcohol increases blood pressure and also makes you fat. Anyone who consumes more than 30 grams of alcohol (about three-quarters of a liter of beer or a third liter of wine) daily has a twice as high risk of high blood pressure as someone who does not drink alcohol. Therefore, enjoy alcohol as much as possible in small quantities and not regularly.

8.     Diabetes

Diabetes and high blood pressure are two closely related diseases: they share the same factors, the same negative effects on the arteries, and the common risks of complications.

About 80% of type 2 diabetics also suffer from hypertension and conversely, type 2 diabetes occurs more frequently in hypertensive people.

Often, high blood pressure appears even before diabetes occurs. In addition, diabetes also makes the arteries more rigid, which leads to an increase in blood pressure.

In people with diabetes, dietary and lifestyle recommendations are usually accompanied by medical treatment. This treatment should be taken regularly every day: beware of neglect and the “yo-yo” effect which leads to peaks in hypertension and increases the risk of an accident.

9.     Kidney problems

In the event of kidney disease, the kidney no longer correctly fulfills its role as a purification plant. This overload associated with a narrowing of the diameter of the vessels (caused by changes in renal hormones) leads to an increase in blood pressure, regardless of the initial kidney disease.

Conversely, High blood pressure over time damages vessels throughout the body. It can decrease the blood supply essential for important organs such as the kidneys. It also damages the tiny filtration units in the kidneys. As a result, they are no longer able to eliminate waste and superfluous liquid in the blood.

When hypertension is imbalanced and handled inadequately, it causes progressive sclerosis of the kidney vessels, resulting in severe chronic renal failure needing repeated dialysis or kidney transplantation in certain people.

It is therefore fundamental, in the event of both kidney problems and hypertension, to follow your medical treatment well in order to prevent the occurrence of cerebrovascular or cardiovascular accidents, but also to avoid the possible progressive destruction of the kidneys.

10.    Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, OSAS for short, is now regarded as a proven risk factor of high blood pressure or as a possible reason for difficult-to-adjust or nocturnal high blood pressure, a kind of secondary form of high pressure.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a serious sleep-related breathing disorder in which the airways periodically sag, which hinders airflow.

Patients with sleep apnea are often burdened with other health risks such as obesity and smoking. Alcohol and (soothing) sleeping pills also play a role in OSAS. They weaken the muscles that keep the throat open.

11.    Smoking

Smoking damages the vessels in the long term and interferes with cholesterol metabolism. This can lead to a permanent calcification of the vessels. Clogged and stiff vessels are called atherosclerosis, which is one of the main reasons for heart attacks.

If you smoke, you probably already know it: you should stop. Especially if you have other of the risk factors mentioned here.

No, it’s not easy. But yes, you can still do it, for sure. By the way, the e-cigarette is less dangerous for blood pressure and is also recommended by lung doctors for weaning (but not for continuous vaping!).

12.    Birth control pills

Estrogens in conventional pills can affect the hormones, narrow the blood vessels and increase the salt content in the blood.

Then there is a similar effect as with a high-salt diet: more fluid in the vessels, blood pressure increases.

If you take the pill and suffer from high blood pressure, you have two options: You switch to preparations that contain only progestins (so-called mini-pills). Or you completely renounce the pill and look for alternatives.

13.    Family history

Anyone who has parents, siblings, an aunt or uncle with high blood pressure is considered to have a family history. According to a US study, the risk is highest if the parents acquire high blood pressure at an early age, i.e., before the age of 55.

14.    Pregnancy

Women who have had high blood pressure during pregnancy are more likely to develop high blood pressure again later in life. That’s especially true for women with preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome.

15.    Licorice

Licorice can cause you to get high blood pressure. Licorice and licorice root contain glycyrrhizin. This substance can cause you to retain fluids and raise your blood pressure. This effect disappears as soon as you stop taking licorice or licorice.

Elena Mars

Elena writes part-time for the Scientific Origin, focusing mostly on health-related issues.