High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)


Age-related Risks

With age comes several risks that increase blood pressure:

  • Stiffer blood vessels.
  • Build up of a fatty substance called plaque which contains cholesterol. This condition is called atherosclerosis and it causes blood vessels to narrow. 
  • Changes in the bodys ability to regulate sodium (salt) and water.

About two-thirds of older adults are sensitive to salt. People who are sensitive will retain extra fluid. Their heart will also have to pump more blood. 

People with some types of kidney disease or who are overweight are more likely to have high blood pressure. 

Other Risks

In addition to age, other risks for high blood pressure are:

  • Race.
  • Family history.
  • Obesity.
  • Low amounts of physical activity.
  • Smoking or too much alcohol.
  • A high-salt diet or too little potassium in the diet.
  • Emotional stress.
  • Other chronic conditions, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, or sleep apnea (difficulty with breathing during sleep).
  • Certain hormone or steroid medications.


Last Updated March 2023

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