If you have, stage 2 hypertension; I hope you’re taking some form of action. Did you know a 20 mmHg increase in systolic or 10 mmHg diastolic, doubles your risk of stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular disease? 1.
When your blood pressure is in that range consistently, it didn’t get there by accident. That number increase puts your BP in or close to stage 2 hypertension. There are many causes why this occurs. Knowing those causes may help you keep your numbers under control and may save your life one day.
This blog post will cover all the causes. It will include ones that develop over time and cause essential or primary hypertension. This is high blood pressure undue to an underlying issue and does not have one apparent cause. Others are more severe and put you at more risk of higher blood pressure. This is called secondary hypertension.
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The following are stage 2 hypertension causes:
Have you ever heard someone complain about how hard they work at controlling their blood pressure and it’s still high? While some people who give blood pressure control a half-hearted attempt, may use this excuse, there are others where this is true. I know, because I’m one of them.
Some people are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure. Some genes or gene combinations are associated with the silent killer. Some studies have shown certain genes are connected to higher blood pressure with age 2.
There are numerous studies showing a direct association with obesity and high blood pressure, including stage 2 hypertension. Some studies suggest obesity may be responsible for about 40% of hypertension. Another study had that percentage at 78% for men and 65% in women 3. Those are staggering statistics.
In addition, the obesity and high blood pressure link is not limited to adults. The relationship between obesity at a young age and the future risk of hypertension has been shown in research. The good news, when someone returns to normal weight, the risk of hypertension reduces significantly. This is a perfect reason to follow a better nutrition plan and leads me to my next two topics 2.
A huge part of keeping blood pressure under control is through nutrition. This is especially true if you have the genetic disposition I mentioned first. Eating the wrong food can keep your pressure high even if you are doing everything else correct. The following nutrition may help cause stage 2 hypertension:
Too Much Sodium
The American Heart Association recommendation amount of sodium is about 1,500 mg. While there are some exceptions to the rule, like people who sweat all day long, most people consume a lot of sodium. The average American consumes about 3,400 mg a day. Some may get the whole 1,500 mg in one fast food sitting.
Sodium can increase fluid build-up and have a negative affect on the potassium to sodium ratio. Both of these can cause hypertension and puts an extra burden on your heart 4.
Increasing your potassium intake can help offset the negative affects of sodium. The daily recommendation is 4,700 mg. One exception to this recommendation is people with kidney problems or on certain medication: always confer with your physician. There is a link between lower potassium intake and higher blood pressure.
In addition, there’s a connection between a low potassium and high sodium ratio to increased blood pressure 2. The reason why is because the more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Also, potassium helps to relax your blood vessel walls 5.
Low Nutrient Rich Foods
Eating foods without the correct nutrients your body requires, can help your body increase blood pressure levels. Nutrients like potassium, magnesium and calcium all help to lower blood pressure but are lacking in many foods. You can find a detailed list of these foods in my blog post, Top Foods That Cause High Blood Pressure.
Added sugar can help increase your blood pressure in the following ways 6:
- Spike insulin levels.
- Constrict blood vessels.
- Lessen the sensitivity of receptors that regulate blood pressure.
- Can increase obesity.
Avoid the foods with added sugar like processed foods, sweets, candy and most breakfast cereals.
Saturated and Trans Fats
Dietary fat puts you at risk for hypertension. In addition, research has shown reducing fat intakes can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Both saturated and trans fat increases bad cholesterol and risk of heart disease 7.
Trans fat has zero benefits and should be avoided at all costs. It’s so bad, the FDA has banned it. Unfortunately, it can still be found in some food. In addition to increasing bad cholesterol, it can cause inflammation and insulin resistance which aggravates blood pressure more 8.
Refined carbs have been stripped of most of its nutrients which would be beneficial for stage 2 hypertension. Refined carbs have been linked to the following:
- Spikes in insulin and blood sugar
- Type 2 diabetes
All four of those are linked to high blood pressure. In addition, the increase in blood sugar from these carbs activates the sympathetic nervous system. This raises the heart rate and blood pressure 9.
Lack of Physical Activity
An inverse relationship between physical fitness or activity and hypertension has been proven in various different studies. Even modest activity, like 30 to 60 minutes every week, has been linked to blood pressure levels decreasing 10.
Studies have shown lack of physical activity is associated with a higher risk of hypertension 11. So get off your couch and take a brisk walk every day, it can work wonders for your health.
Excess alcohol can cause hypertension temporarily and long-term. Temporary spikes after consuming more than a few drinks are typical. The increase in calories and sugar may cause obesity and blood sugar spikes which both raise blood pressure 12.
How much is excessive? The American Collage of Cardiology recommends the following:
- Men: No more than 2 drinks per day.
- Women: No more than 1 drink per day.
What do they consider a drink? Unfortunately, it does not include a tall boy, meaning a large can of beer. One drink is either a 12-ounce can of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor 2.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This creates a partial or complete collapse of your upper airway while sleeping. The negative affects of this condition is staggering. In regards to blood pressure, it can raise it short and long-term. It does this through the following 13.:
- Activate the sympathetic nervous system.
- Imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants.
- Constricts the heart’s blood vessels.
Hypertension caused by kidney disease is called renal hypertension or renovascular hypertension. The kidneys play a major role in blood pressure control. Diseased kidneys cannot regulate pressure effectively, causing it to increase 14.
Besides the known negative affects of illegal drugs, they can cause hypertension. Stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine boost the heart rate and increase blood pressure. Cocaine constricts blood vessels so much it is linked to hypertensive crisis, the category above stage 2 hypertension 15.
Here are two interesting facts:
- People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop hypertension.
- People with hypertension and diabetes are four times as likely to develop heart disease.
How does diabetes cause hypertension? Over time the high glucose levels can cause damage to the blood vessels and kidneys. When these two are operating inefficiently, blood pressure is likely to increase 16.
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Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol. When cortisol is increased, it raises the heart rate and constricts blood vessels, raising blood pressure. Cortisol is there to protect us in a stressful situation and is often called the “fight-or-flight” hormone.
Unfortunately, many of us experience stress all day or have an underlying stress that never seems to go away. This issue may cause hypertension which can lead to heart disease over time 17.
Two thyroid conditions known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, can both cause hypertension. Too much thyroid can raise the heart rate and increase blood pressure. Too little thyroid weakens the heart rate and can cause the blood vessels to harden over time 18.
Adrenal Gland Problems
These small glands sit on top of the kidneys. They produce a hormone called aldosterone which controls salt levels in the blood. The adrenal glands can develop growths and when this happens aldosterone levels increase. This increases the salt in the blood causing hypertension.
To make things worse, extra aldosterone also decreases levels of potassium. As you know from earlier, potassium is crucial for getting rid of extra sodium. The excess aldosterone may be to blame for one out of every 15 people with high blood pressure 19.
This is a condition you probably don’t hear about every day. It’s when your body is exposed to high cortisol levels for a long period of time. About 80% of adults with this condition also has high blood pressure. Cushing syndrome causes hypertension because it increases the heart rate and blood vessel damage 20.
There are many contributing factors which can cause hypertension during pregnancy:
- Lack of physical activity
- Weight gain
- Family history
- Carrying more than one baby
Hypertension during pregnancy may occur during the whole pregnancy, especially if the woman had high blood pressure to start. Gestational hypertension develops after the 20th week and typically goes away after childbirth 21.
If you found this Blood Pressure topic interesting check out these related blood pressure articles also found in this same website:
- High Blood Pressure Stage 2
- Hypertensive Crisis – You’re Calling 911 or a Doctor!
- High Blood Pressure Stage 1 – The 1st High BP Range
- Harvard Health: New high blood pressure guidelines: Think your blood pressure is fine? Think again…
- Journal Hypertension: 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline
- AJPH: Incidence of Hypertension the Framingham Study
- American Heart Association: Why Should I Limit Sodium
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- BMG Journals: The wrong white crystals: not salt but sugar as etiological in hypertension and cardio metabolic disease
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fat
- Harvard Health: The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The sympathetic nervous system and blood pressure in humans
- American Journal of Hypertension: How much exercise is required to reduce blood pressure in essential hypertensives: a dose-response study
- National Library of Medicine: Sedentary Behaviors and the Risk of Incident Hypertension: The SUN Cohort
- American Heart Association: Limiting Alcohol to Manage High Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea
- National Kidney Foundation: What Causes High Blood Pressure
- National Library of Medicine: Substance Abuse and Hypertension
- John Hopkins Medicine: Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Cardiovascular Consequences of Cortisol Excess
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Hypertension in Thyroid Disorders
- Harvard Health: Aldosterone overload: An overlooked cause of high blood pressure?
- National Library of Medicine: Hypertension in Cushing’s Syndrome
- CDC: High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy