Elevated blood pressure
Risk factors for elevated blood pressure include:
- Being overweight or obese. The greater your body mass, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the amount of blood going through your blood vessels increases, so does the force on your artery walls.
- Sex. Elevated blood pressure is more common in men than in women through about age 55. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 55.
- Race. Elevated blood pressure is particularly common among people of African heritage, often developing at an earlier age than it does in white people.
- Family history of high blood pressure. If a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, has high blood pressure, you're more likely to develop elevated blood pressure.
- Not being physically active. Not exercising can cause weight gain and increase your risk of elevated blood pressure.
- Diet high in salt (sodium) or low in potassium. Sodium and potassium are two key nutrients in the way your body regulates your blood pressure. If you have too much sodium or too little potassium in your diet, you're more likely to have elevated blood pressure.
- Tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco or being around others who smoke (secondhand smoke) can increase your blood pressure.
- Drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol use has been associated with elevated blood pressure, particularly in men.
- Certain chronic conditions. Kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea, among others, can increase the risk of elevated blood pressure.
Although elevated blood pressure and high blood pressure are most common in adults, children can be at risk, too. For some children, kidney or heart problems can cause high blood pressure. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits, such as an unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise, contribute to elevated blood pressure and high blood pressure.