Causes of Hypertension
The exact causes of hypertension are not known. However, certain factors are associated with high blood pressure. People who smoke, are overweight, eat salt and fat regularly, drink excessively, are stressed, or are not physically active are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. People who have a high level of cholesterol or have heart or kidney disease, as well as people who have had a stroke, are at a higher risk of developing hypertension. Though some people are at a higher risk of developing hypertension, anyone at any age and background can develop high blood pressure. People who have a history of hypertension in the family or are African-American are more likely to have hypertension.
Complications of Hypertension
Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels all over the body. It can cause blood vessels to widen and become weaker. This can lead to abnormal widening of the blood vessels, which is called an “aneurysm.” Aneurysms can bleed and cause death, especially when they are located in the blood vessels of the brain or the aorta, the biggest blood vessel in the abdomen. Over time, other blood vessels become narrower from the accumulation of cholesterol and other debris on the inside. The thickening of the muscles of the arteries from high blood pressure can also cause this narrowing.
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Last reviewed: 07/14/2010
Narrow blood vessels restrict and may even block the flow of blood. When blood flow stops, the organs supplied by these blood vessels can be damaged or can die. The blockage of arteries in the brain can lead to a stroke. Strokes can lead to paralysis, speech problems, and even death. Blockage of blood vessels in the kidneys can lead to kidney failure, the inability of the kidney to remove poisons from the blood. This will lead to death unless patients are hooked up to a special machine 3 to 5 times a week, for four hours at a time, to clean their blood. This is known as dialysis.
Narrowed Blood Vessel