High blood pressure is a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels (arteries) at higher than normal pressures.
The kidneys normally regulate the body’s salt balance by retaining sodium and water and excreting potassium. Imbalances in this kidney function can expand blood volumes, which can cause high blood pressure.
Changes in the structure and function of small and large arteries may contribute to high blood pressure. The angiotensin pathway and the immune system may stiffen small and large arteries, which can affect blood pressure.
Much of the understanding of the body systems involved in high blood pressure has come from genetic studies.
Environmental causes of high blood pressure include unhealthy lifestyle habits, being overweight or obese, and medicines.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits can cause high blood pressure, including:
Research studies show that being overweight or obese can increase the resistance in the blood vessels, causing the heart to work harder and leading to high blood pressure.
Prescription medicines such as asthma or hormone therapies, including birth control pills and estrogen, and over-the-counter medicines such as cold relief medicines may cause this form of high blood pressure. This happens because medicines can change the way your body controls fluid and salt balances, cause your blood vessels to constrict, or impact the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system leading to high blood pressure.
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