High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the pressure of blood in the body is too high.
If blood pressure is high, it needs to be controlled, as otherwise it can put extra strain on the blood vessels serving the organs.
This can lead to serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes.
It’s not always clear what causes high blood pressure, but certain things can increase the risk.
What are the risk factors which can lead to high blood pressure?
According to the NHS, factors that can raise the risk of developing high blood pressure include eating a lot of salt in your diet, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise.
Regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol, smoking and suffering from long-term sleep deprivation can also increase the risk.
In addition, people with a family history of the condition and those of African or Caribbean origin also have a higher risk.
In order to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, making healthy lifestyle changes can help.
“High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking,” said the NHS.
UK guidelines recommend eating no more than 6g of salt a day, which equates to about a teaspoonful.
Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre – such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta – and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.
When it comes to alcohol, UK guidelines advise against regularly drinking more than 14 units a week.
It’s also advised to spread drinking over three days or more if drinking as much as 14 units a week.
In about one in 20 cases, high blood pressure occurs as a result of an underlying condition, medication or drug.
Conditions that can cause high blood pressure include kidney disease, diabetes, long-term kidney infections and lupus.
Hormone problems, such as an overactive or underactive thyroid, and obstructive sleep apnoea can also cause hypertension.
Medicines and drugs that can increase blood pressure include the combined oral contraceptive pill, steroid medication and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
Some antidepressants and over-the-counter cough and cold remedies may also cause blood pressure to rise.
In these cases, blood pressure may return to normal once you stop taking the medicine or drug.