hypertension: risk factors


High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:

  • Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Until about age 64, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
  • Race. High blood pressure is more common among African-Americans than it is in whites, and it often develops at a younger age. Serious consequences like stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure are also more likely in African-Americans.
  • Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in families.
  • Being overweight or obese. The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the amount of blood flow through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
  • 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 also increases the risk of being overweight.
  • Using tobacco.Smoking or chewing tobacco not only momentarily raises your blood pressure, but the chemicals in tobacco can also damage the lining of your artery walls. This can constrict your arteries and put you at risk for heart disease. Secondhand smoke can potentially raise your risk of heart disease.
  • Too much salt (sodium) in your diet. Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
  • Too little potassium in your diet. Potassium helps to keep the sodium levels in your cells in check. A healthy potassium balance is essential for heart health. Sodium can build up in your blood if you don’t get enough potassium in your diet or if you lose too much potassium due to dehydration or other health problems.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.

    Heavy drinking might harm your heart over time. Women who drink more than one drink per day and males who drink more than two drinks per day may have an increase in blood pressure.

    Consume alcohol in moderation if you choose to do so. That is up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for males for healthy people. 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor equals one drink.

  • Stress. High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. Stress-related habits such as eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol can lead to further increases in blood pressure.
  • Certain chronic conditions. Kidney illness, diabetes, and sleep apnea are among chronic disorders that might increase your risk of high blood pressure.


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