High Blood Pressure

What Increases Your Risk


Some things can make high blood pressure more likely. For example:

  • Being older or getting older (as we age, blood vessels get stiffer)
  • Being very overweight
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Having a family history of high blood pressure
  • Eating too much salt
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking

In addition, African-Americans are more prone to having high blood pressure. Prolonged stress also can increase your blood pressure. And, in some cases, having low levels of potassium in your diet make it more likely for you to have the condition.

Other health conditions such as sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease and high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia) can trigger high blood pressure. Certain medications can also cause your blood pressure to rise, for example some diet pills and cold medicines.

If you have high blood pressure, your health care professional will consider and rule out possible causes. It's an important step because understanding the cause will help guide how you manage your blood pressure.

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Updated: November 2017 | Published: June 2016
Editorial Team Lead: Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, FACC, FAHA
Medical Reviewer: John D. Bisognano, MD, PhD, FACC

Infographic: High Blood Pressure

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