World Hypertension Day 2020: Eight uncommon causes of high blood pressure
Hypertension is usually linked to lifestyle, genetics or hormones. However, there are some cases in which the cause of hypertension is not identifiable.
Usually, when someone is suffering from high blood pressure, we attribute it to their lifestyle – excessive smoking, drinking, consumption of processed food, high salt intake, a lack of physical exercise or stress. In some cases, hypertension can even be genetic, because of kidney problems or hormonal issues. However, there are some cases in which the cause of hypertension is not identifiable. In such cases, the only solution is to completely overhaul one’s lifestyle and make changes which will be sustainable and make the body stronger. If one is unable to do so, hypertension could silently kill by causing brain strokes, heart attacks, breathlessness, and a host of other problems.
Today, on World Hypertension Day, let’s discuss some uncommon causes of high blood pressure:
1. Added sugar
Sugar can be even more harmful than salt. Even being on a high-sugar diet for two weeks can significantly raise your blood pressure.
2. Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person cannot breathe for short periods of time while sleeping due to obstruction in the upper airways. Due to continuous disturbance in sleep, stress hormones are released which increase the blood pressure. Lack of oxygen may also damage the walls of the arteries.
3. Lack of potassium
Kidneys need a delicate balance of sodium and potassium to extract the right amount of excess fluids from the blood. An imbalance in the same can cause high blood pressure. To keep one’s potassium in check fruits, vegetables like beans, broccoli, spinach and other green leafy veggies, chestnuts, low-fat dairy and fish need to be consumed.
4. Herbal supplements
Some herbs like bitter orange, St. John’s wart, ephedra, ginkgo, ginseng and guarana can also increase the blood pressure. Always consult a doctor before taking supplements.
5. Thyroid problems
When enough thyroid hormones are not released, the heart rate slows down and arteries become stiff. It can also raise the level of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol), and that may, in turn, result in the stiffening of arteries. Alternatively, if too many hormones are released, it can make the heart beat harder and faster, and again raise your blood pressure.
When the cells in the body lack water, the pituitary gland releases a chemical to shrink that causes the blood vessels to start constricting. As a result, the kidneys make less urine, to save the little fluid in your body. This makes the blood vessels in the heart and brain to shrink further, leading to high blood pressure.
7. Hormonal birth controls
Birth control like pills, injections and other devices that use hormones can squeeze the blood vessels. This may result in high blood pressure. This is more likely to affect women who are overweight, older than 35, or smokers.
Medicines which target brain chemicals like norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin can also increase your blood pressure.
This article was written by Dr Udgeath Dhir, Director, Cardio Thoracic Vascular Surgery, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
For more information, read our article on Foods to reduce and control blood pressure.
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