Blood pressure, as the name suggests, is the measure of the force of blood pushing against the blood vessel walls.
As such, high blood pressure, also called hypertension, simply means that the heart is working extra hard to pump blood around the body. This is dangerous, since it contributes to the hardening of the arteries and may lead to heart failure somewhere down the road.
In Singapore, the situation is similar to many developed countries in terms of numbers. Slightly less than 25% of Singapore residents aged 30 to 69 have hypertension. But by the time the average Singaporean reaches the 60 to 69 year age group, more than 50% have high blood pressure.
But what are the most common hypertension causes? According to Singapore’s Health Promotion Board, in 95% of cases, hypertension causes are unknown.
Thankfully, doctors have narrowed it down to some key risk factors.
Our kidneys are in charge of removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. When the kidneys fail, they stop removing the waste and extra fluid, causing a build-up in the blood vessels and, in turn, the blood pressure level.
Patients with diabetes, too, are likely to have high blood pressure. That’s because diabetes affects the arteries, making them more likely to get narrower. The narrower the blood vessels, the higher the blood pressure.
Being overweight or obese means that your body requires more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on the artery walls.
You are what you eat, and that is certainly the case when it comes to high blood pressure. Consuming processed or pre-packaged foods, or even adding too much salt, will boost your sodium intake. In Singapore, where the average person consumes 60% more sodium than the recommended amount, this should be a cause for concern.
Sometimes, it runs in the family. Heredity plays a part in your hypertension risks. If you have family members with high blood pressure, that may mean you’re more prone to the condition as well.