Mental Health

Common Causes of High Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition that many people must manage. Treatment options are widely available, enabling many sufferers to maintain active lifestyles. Understanding the primary causes and available treatments is crucial in mitigating its effects.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension occurs when blood flow encounters resistance as it travels through the body. This resistance is often due to the narrowing of arteries. While some cases have unknown causes, several factors contribute to significantly elevated blood pressure. Age plays a role, as the risk of developing hypertension tends to increase with age. Common contributors to hypertension include:

  • Obesity and being significantly overweight
  • Smoking tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lack of physical activity
  • High intake of salt
  • Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation
  • Stressful lifestyles

Combinations of these factors escalate the risk of high blood pressure. Additionally, there’s evidence suggesting a genetic predisposition to hypertension in some individuals.

Certain medical conditions can also lead to hypertension, accounting for about 1 in 20 cases. Medical issues known to promote hypertension include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease and infection
  • Hormonal imbalances such as overactive or underactive thyroids
  • Lupus

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it demonstrates how existing medical conditions can contribute to hypertension.

Moreover, specific medications can elevate blood pressure. These include the contraceptive pill, steroid-containing medications, certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, select antidepressants, and illegal recreational drugs like amphetamines and cocaine.


Understanding the various factors contributing to high blood pressure is key to managing and mitigating its effects. While age, lifestyle choices, and genetic predispositions play significant roles, it’s essential to acknowledge how existing medical conditions and certain medications can also influence hypertension. By recognizing these factors, individuals can make informed choices and work with healthcare professionals to effectively manage this common condition and lead healthier lives.

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Dr. Jade Marie Tomaszewski is a pathologist-in-training at McGill University, where she also did her degree in MSc Pathology. She obtained her medical degree (MD) from the University of the Philippines, after completing a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. In her (little) spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, curling up with a book and a large mug of tea, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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