Most of us are familiar with the more common causes of hypertension. But did you know that there are several lesser-known causes of high blood pressure, too?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the measure of the force that blood exerts against the walls of the arteries as it flows through them. If hypertension is too high for too long, it forces the heart to work harder, eventually causing serious damage to the heart and blood vessels. This damage can lead to various complications such as stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, and other health problems.
So what are some of the causes of high blood pressure? The first culprits to pop into the mind are likely to be alcohol abuse, being very overweight, eating too much salt, getting older, and having a family history of hypertension. And that would be right. But there are also some less obvious causes of hypertension, a condition that affects an estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide.
Below are some of the lesser-known causes of high blood pressure.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a major, hidden factor that is thought to be one of the causes of high blood pressure. When breathing is interrupted during sleep, the oxygen level in the body falls. The brain then sends signals through the nervous system to increase oxygen flow to the heart and brain. This causes the blood vessels to tighten, leading to increased blood pressure.
Frequent drops in blood oxygen levels can also trigger the release of stress hormones, which increases the heart rate and the risk of hypertension.
BPAs – A Lesser Known Cause of High Blood Pressure
BPA’s are another of the lesser-known causes of high blood pressure. A study published in AHA Journals concluded that the chemical BPA used as an inner coat for plastic bottles and beverage cans could seep into food and drinks and increase blood pressure. In previous studies, chronic BPA exposure was linked to heart disease and hypertension. This study by AHA journals is the first to show a direct link to blood pressure levels.
Yet another possible cause of high blood pressure is loneliness. Evidence is mounting that loneliness can exacerbate, or even cause, hypertension. A cohort study that followed a group of 229 participants over four years showed that chronic feelings of loneliness pushed up blood pressure over the study’s period.
The participant’s rate of loneliness and satisfaction with their social network was determined based on their personal feelings through statements like “I lack companionship”. Their social network was also classified according to how often they interact with friends and relatives, as well as their marital status, religious group affiliation, and voluntary group memberships.
Hot Tubs and Saunas
Hot tub dips and steamy saunas feel good, especially when your joints and muscles ache or when it’s cold outside. But they are not suitable for people with hypertension. The heat from hot tubs and saunas causes the blood vessels to constrict, similar to what happens during normal activities such as taking a brisk walk. If your physician has advised you to avoid moderate exercise, be cautious when using saunas and hot tubs.
Medications Can Cause of High Blood Pressure
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are meant to enhance your health. However, certain medications could wreak havoc on your blood pressure. Some medicines that may elevate your blood pressure include anti-infective drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, decongestants, diet pills, and chemotherapeutic drugs. People who use oral contraceptives and steroids are also at an increased risk of developing hypertension.
Be sure to check with your pharmacist or physician if you’re concerned about your prescriptions and blood pressure.
Not Using the Restroom When You Need To
Another lesser-known cause of high blood pressure is not using the restroom when you need to. Studies suggest that holding urine at three hours after the last urination can cause malignant hypertension, leading to an increase in diastolic pressure of three points and systolic pressure of four points.
Final Thoughts on Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure often does not have any obvious symptoms. For this reason, it is essential to have regular screening, especially if you are at a higher risk. If you are diagnosed with the condition, your doctor can help you manage it by prescribing medication and advising you on effective lifestyle changes. Knowing the common and less common causes of high blood pressure, and taking steps to avoid them, is another effective way to help prevent hypertension.