Etiology of Hypertension

By Rachel Timerit

Including etiology of hypertension such as smoking. alcohol use, family history and genetics



Etiology of hypertension refers to the causes of high blood pressure. To better understand what causes hypertension there is need to visit the common classification of hypertension. Doctors classify hypertension into two namely primary hypertension which is also known as essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension represents a hypertensive condition whose causes are not known. Doctors have only identified risk factors associated with essential hypertension. These have overtime been confused for hypertension causes by the general public.

These risk factors will be discussed in detail later in this article. Secondary hypertension is a class of high blood pressure whose causes are identifiable. It has been observed by doctors that secondary hypertension is largely associated with pediatric hypertension. Whereas 90 to 95 percent of hypertension sufferers have essential hypertension, only 5 to 10 percent mostly children suffer from secondary hypertension.

Secondary hypertension causes will include underlying disorders which can be medical or non-medical. The etiology of hypertension in this context will include side effects of medication, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease and cardiovascular related ailments. In cases of secondary hypertension, hypertension etiology can be resolved by treating the underlying medical disorders. In most cases once the disorder has been resolved the cause of the hypertension disappears.

Etiology of Hypertension: Primary Hypertension

As alluded to earlier, primary essential hypertension causes remain unknown. What doctors know are risk factors associated with essential hypertension that affects the majority of people suffering from hypertension on the planet. These are as many as 75 million in the United States alone according to hypertension statistics. The following are risk factors that science has identified to predispose individuals to the onset of high blood pressure.

Race and Background

Although the reason why is unknown, studies have long established that people of Africa-American background have a higher risk of developing hypertension compared to other individuals from different backgrounds. Amongst black people, hypertension has been shown to develop earlier than it does in white people with stroke and heart attack occurring more frequently in the former group than the latter group.

Smoking and Alcohol Abuse

Nicotine in tobacco is known as much as ethanol in alcohol to damage nerves and arteries over time resulting in hypertension. This is apart from the fact that alcohol consumption and tobacco use may result in immediate to short-term blood pressure spikes. The link between alcohol and high blood pressure is well researched.

As further evidence, the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK has noted a growing rise in younger hypertension sufferers than previously due to binge drinking. Alcohol and tobacco use are important factors as far as the etiology of hypertension is concerned.

Overweight and Obesity

Being obese or overweight is an important risk factor for hypertension. This is the reason behind the recommendation by doctors to exercise in order to prevent or control already existing hypertension. The association between exercise and blood pressure is well studied. An obese or overweight individual burdens the heart resulting in it working harder and increasing blood pressure. Overweight individuals likely do not eat healthy resulting in high cholesterol consumption which is also bad for blood pressure and heart health in general.

Hereditary and Genetic Factors

A consideration of the hypertension etiology may possibly not be complete without a discussion on how family history and genetics play a role in hypertension. Doctors through studies know that individuals coming from families with a history of hypertension are likely to also develop hypertension at a certain stage in life. This assertion is equally upheld in as far as the role of genetics in hypertension is concerned. In some cases, and many, no solid cause or trace to an existing hypertensive condition can be found save for a family heritage rich in hypertension sufferers.


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