High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a common yet potentially very dangerous condition. Here are some common causes of high blood pressure, potential risk factors, and what you can do to keep your blood pressure in a normal range.


High blood pressure is very common in adults.  In fact, there are more than three million cases of high blood pressure reported in the United States each year.  High blood pressure is caused by the blood pushing too hard against the walls of the arteries.  It is sometimes abbreviated as HBP and also known as hypertension.  Here are some basic facts and information you should know about this common health issue.

What causes high blood pressure?

While there are many different causes for high blood pressure, most adults with the health problem have primary (essential) hypertension.  This means that there was no specific cause.  Instead, they gradually got high blood pressure over time.  This type of HBP develops over a period of years.

The other type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, is caused by another underlying health problem.  Diseases and other factors that may cause high blood pressure include:

·         Obstructive sleep apnea

·         Kidney problems

·         Adrenal gland tumors

·         Thyroid problems

·         Blood vessel defects that people are born with

·         Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs

·         Illegal drugs like cocaine and amphetamines

Secondary hypertension is usually sudden and has a much higher risk involved than primary hypertension.  This is because blood pressure is higher with this type of HBP.

Who is at risk of getting high blood pressure?

High blood pressure mostly affects older adults.  HBP is more common in men until about age 64.  Women over age 65 are more likely to have high blood pressure.  People of African heritage have HBP more often than other ethnicities.  Family history can also affect high blood pressure.  The disease usually runs in families.

Life choices can also affect your risk of contracting high blood pressure.  People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop HBP, as are those who aren’t physically active.  Using tobacco and drinking too much alcohol are also risk factors.  If your diet includes too much salt or too little potassium, you may be at risk for HBP.  Stress is also a factor in high blood pressure cases.

High blood pressure symptoms

Most people who have high blood pressure experience no symptoms.  This is true even if their blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels.  Occasionally some patients will experience shortness of breath, nosebleeds, or headaches.  These symptoms aren’t specific to high blood pressure and generally don’t occur until HBP has reached a life-threatening level.

Because there are no real telltale signs of HBP, adults should make sure they have their blood pressure taken during their regular doctor visits.  If you are at risk for high blood pressure, you should be tested no less than once a year.

High blood pressure treatment

If you have high blood pressure, it is likely that your doctor will recommend making lifestyle changes.  These may include:

·         Eating healthy foods with less salt

·         Exercising on a regular basis

·         Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight to achieve a healthy weight

·         Drinking less alcohol

Even if you do all of these things, it may not be enough to lower your blood pressure.  Doctors can prescribe many different medications to treat HBP, such as thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers.  Talk to your doctor to figure out which HBP treatment is best for you.

Get your blood pressure checked at BASS Primary Care

Whether you have HBP or not, it is a good idea to get your blood pressure taken at least every two years. BASS Primary Care offers this and many other services. Call them at (925) 962-9120, book an appointment online, or just walk in any weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.