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The cause of high blood pressure is unknown for up to 95% of people. This condition, called primary hypertension, probably is the result of multiple causes.

The susceptibility of getting high blood pressure intensifies as you age. Until 45 years of age, men are diagnosed with the most high blood pressure cases. From 45 to 54 years of age, women and men are equally susceptible to high blood pressure. After 54 years of age, women are more likely to develop hypertension.

African Americans and Native Americans have especially high rates of elevated blood pressure. This situation seems to be worsening. African Americans develop hypertension sooner in life, with much higher average blood pressures. Hispanics have a higher proportion of obesity and diabetes compared with Caucasians, so they have additional risk for developing hypertension.

People who have relatives with high blood pressure have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure. People who eat salty foods on a regular basis are more likely to develop hypertension. Overweight people are susceptible to many illnesses, including hypertension. People with intense anger, repressed expression of anger, and heightened anxiety are more susceptible to developing hypertension.

People with hypertension usually have no symptoms except when their blood pressure gets extremely high, or they have had hypertension a long time. In such cases, damage may come about in major organs. The brain, heart, kidneys, and small vessels contained in the eyes may be adversely affected. If left untreated, hypertension may develop into serious complications.

Resulting Complications
Hypertension is the most frequently occurring cardiovascular disease (CVD), affecting more than 70 million Americans. However, many other CVDs are equally serious, but not as widespread. Hypertension itself can be a risk factor for other more serious conditions. Many CVDs have several similar risk factors and symptoms, so simple lifestyle changes such as avoiding bad habits and eating smart are recommended for every person with a CVD.

Heart failure (HF) affects over 5 million Americans. Hypertension is a common cause of HF, but diabetes can also be a major risk factor. Diabetes and high blood pressure are major contributors to kidney disease.

Treatment by Avoiding Bad Habits
After getting a diagnosis of high blood pressure, you should try to notice what bad habits, such as drinking alcohol excessively or smoking cigarettes, you should cut down on. You may be able to eliminate some bad habits altogether. Some habits can be especially hard to break, but deciding to participate in a healthier lifestyle is critical for decreasing your blood pressure. Living your new heart-healthy lifestyle can prevent extended hospital stays, and you may even live longer. Be sure to talk with your doctor regarding your desire to break any bad habits you have.

There are help lines and support groups available for most harmful habits. Your workplace, local clinic, or even the internet probably has programs you can participate in. Your chances of avoiding failure can be increased by bringing a close friend along.

Take it slow and steady. If you attempt to break a bad habit all at once, you may discover that it is too easy to fail. Reward yourself if you have managed to drink less beer or eat fewer candy bars. Bad habits can be replaced with good ones. Instead of smoking, chew gum. Replace high-sodium, high-fat foods with healthier ones. If you overindulge, do not feel too guilty. Just try getting back on track as soon as possible.

Treatment by Managing Stress
Stress can cause hypertension. You may develop high blood pressure by repeatedly being subjected to stressful conditions over a lengthy period of time. When you experience intense anger, suppressed anger, or heightened anxiety, changes take place within your body. Managing stress effectively is important because it can decrease your blood pressure.

Reactions to stress can make you feel unable to sleep or relax; angry, afraid, helpless, or irritable; aches in your neck, head, back, or jaw; and the need to drink, smoke, use drugs, or overeat. Help lines, support groups, and internet resources are available for people seeking help with managing their stress. Talking with a good therapist is helpful for letting out your emotions and discovering the causes of your reactions to stress.

Remember that how you react to a stressful situation is what is important. The simple act of meditating by sitting quietly for about 15 minutes every day can make you feel calmer. It can also be helpful to visualize a peaceful environment and breathe deeply. Accept the fact that you alone cannot solve some of your problems. Talk with a friend or trusted coworker about your anger or frustration. Have fun by doing things you enjoy when you can. Physical activities can be a positive distraction.

Treatment with Medication
Some types of medications used to treat hypertension include diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensin-2 receptor antagonists, alpha-blockers, calcium channel blockers, alpha-beta-blockers, vasodilators, and nervous system inhibitors.

Diuretics flush excess sodium and water from the body by working in the kidneys. The result is that external pressure in the blood vessels is eased, and blood pressure is allowed to drop. Beta-blockers lower the rate of nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels, allowing the heart to beat with less force. Angiotensin-2 receptor antagonists intercede the activities of angiotensin-2, lowering blood pressure by allowing blood flow which is more relaxed. Calcium channel blockers inhibit calcium flow into heart and blood vessel cells.