Knowing what triggers high blood pressure can help you prevent or reverse it. Like with most other chronic diseases, the reason someone develops HBP has to do with several factors.

HBP seems to run in families, but it’s also highly dependent upon the type of lifestyle someone leads. Women are at an increased risk when taking control pills, during pregnancy, or if taking hormone therapy medications to control menopause symptoms. Obesity or being overweight increases the odds because this puts more pressure on the heart and arteries.

Men and women are equally likely to develop HBP during their lifetimes, but interestingly men are more likely when they’re younger. Before turning 45, men are more likely to have HBP than women but then this flips after age 65, when women’s risk becomes higher than men’s. When children younger than 10 years old have HBP it’s usually a side effect of another condition. This can include a kidney problem, medication use or type 1 diabetes.

High blood pressure has a real laundry list of risk factors. The good news is that the majority of these hypertension risk factors are well within your control. They include:

  • Age — High blood pressure risk increases as age increases. It’s more common in men through the age of 45. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
  • Family history — High blood pressure tends to run in families.
  • Race — High blood pressure is especially common among African-Americans and often develops at an earlier age than it does in Caucasians. Serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, are more common among African-Americans suffering from high blood pressure.
  • Being overweight — The higher your body weight, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls and your blood pressure.
  • Not being physically active — People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity and exercise also increases the risk of being overweight, which are some of the reasons a sedentary lifestyle is dangerous.
  • Tobacco use — Whether it’s smoking or chewing tobacco, both immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily. Additionally, the chemicals in tobacco damage the lining of your artery walls, which causes your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure. Secondhand smoke can also raise your blood pressure.
  • Too much alcohol — Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women may affect blood pressure negatively.
  • Too much sodium in your diet — Too much salt or sodium in your diet causes your body to retain more fluid, which increases blood pressure.
  • Too little potassium in your diet — Potassium is a mineral that helps balance the sodium content of your body’s cells. If you don’t consume enough potassium or retain enough potassium, you can accumulate too much sodium in your blood stream. That’s one reason why you want to avoid low potassium.
  • Stress — High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.
  • Certain chronic conditions — Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.
  • Pregnancy — Sometimes pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is most prevalent in the adult population, but children are also at risk. Sometimes children can experience high blood pressure symptoms that are caused by problems with the heart or kidneys.

However, more and more children who experience high blood pressure are dealing with this chronic issue at a way too young age because of  poor lifestyle habits. When I say poor lifestyle habits, I’m referring to an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise, which both directly relate to the increase in childhood obesity and childhood hypertension.