Heart and Vascular Health 10 Reasons You Might Have High Blood Pressure By Heart and Vascular Institute, October 29, 2015 About one in three adults in the United States have pre-hypertension, which means you are on the cusp of having high blood pressure. African Americans develop high blood pressure more frequently than caucasians or Hispanics, with African American women developing the condition most often. This isn’t something to be brushed aside — high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your risk. Age — For those younger than 45, high blood pressure affects more men than women. For those above 65, it affects women at a higher rate. Family History – High blood pressure tends to run in families. Smoking – Smoking temporarily raises your blood pressure, but it also has a cumulative effect that damages your artery walls and causes them to narrow. Secondhand smoke can also have this effect. Stress – Although temporary, stress can cause jumps in your blood pressure. Just don’t rely on tobacco or cigarettes to relax. Being Overweight – When overweight, the heart is forced to pump more blood through the system, which increases the pressure on your arteries. Excess sodium – A high-sodium diet causes the body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure. Too much alcohol – Drinking too much can damage your heart. Make sure to only drink in moderation (up to 1 drink/day for women and up to 2/day for men). Lack of physical activity – A sedentary lifestyle usually leads to an increased heart rate and higher blood pressure. Medication – Some medicines can change fluid and salt absorption in the body, which may cause your blood vessels to constrict — leading to high blood pressure. Medical Conditions – Some medical conditions such as chronic kidney disease or sleep apnea can increase blood pressure.