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5 Hidden Causes of High Blood Pressure

5 Hidden Causes of High Blood Pressure

Feb 20, 2023

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of all adults in the United States have hypertension or are taking medication for this condition.  

While some risk factors for high blood pressure are well-documented, such as smoking, family history and a sedentary lifestyle, some of its underlying causes may come as a surprise. Here are five hidden causes of high blood pressure. 

1. Sleep apnea

Hypertension can occur as a result of sleep apnea. “Sleep interruption and deprivation from sleep apnea trigger your sympathetic nervous system, which causes you to have an elevated heart rate, dilated pupils and a higher blood pressure,” said Thomas McAndrew, M.D., physician at Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Clarksboro. “Excessive nervous system activation can result in chronic hypertension.” 

2. Stress

Stress can cause a short-term spike in your blood pressure. When you’re in a stressful situation, your body produces a surge of hormones that increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to narrow. As a result, you experience a temporary increase in blood pressure. Long-term stress harms your overall health and can lead to hypertension. 

3. Alcohol consumption

Alcohol-related hypertension affects about 16 percent of adults in the United States. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing issues with high blood pressure. “Alcohol can affect the muscles in your blood vessels, causing them to narrow,” said Dr. McAndrew. “When this happens, your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body, so your blood pressure increases.” 

4. Low vitamin D levels

Vitamin D is vital to maintaining bone and muscle health and may also be linked to blood pressure. Studies suggest that low vitamin D levels are associated with a higher risk for hypertension. Although vitamin D may play a role in reducing your blood pressure, using vitamin D supplements alone will not prevent hypertension. 

5. Thyroid issues

Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can both cause high blood pressure. “Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid produces more T3 hormone than your body needs, leading to an increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure,” said Dr. McAndrew. “Hypothyroidism happens when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the T3 hormone, weakening your heart muscle and leading to hypertension.” If your blood pressure treatment plan isn’t working, talk to your doctor about the possibility of an underlying thyroid condition. 

High blood pressure can lead to serious health complications, including heart disease and stroke. Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care offers comprehensive cardiac services across South Jersey. Schedule an appointment to learn about treatment options and lifestyle changes that can lower your blood pressure and improve your health. 

Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Topics: Cardiology & Heart Health