Causes of high blood pressure

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Normally, the heart pumps blood through the arteries (ART-er-eez) and around the entire body. This pumping causes the blood to circulate under pressure, which is referred to as 'blood pressure.' This measurable pressure generally falls within a specific range for adults. However, if it stays continually above that healthy range, it's called 'high' blood pressure. Most of the time, it's difficult to determine the exact cause of high blood pressure, or essential hypertension (HI-per-ten-shun). Sometimes, however, the condition is linked to the existence of another identifiable problem: a pregnancy, a kidney abnormality, an adrenal gland tumor, or an inherited heart-artery defect. In these situations, the condition is called secondary hypertension. Although the causes are often unknown, there are known controllable factors that may lead to development of the condition. These include obesity, specifically, weighing 30 percent or more than ideal body weight, high salt consumption, heavy or regular alcohol intake, little or no physical exercise, and high amounts of emotional stress. Other risk factors such as race, heredity, and age are uncontrollable, but may also contribute to the problem. If you're concerned about your blood pressure or would like to know more about high blood pressure, contact a healthcare provider.

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