What causes high blood pressure?

About 1 in 4 adults have high blood pressure. In approximately 95% of people with high blood pressure, the cause is not known. Obesity, sleep apnea (when people stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping), lack of exercise, stress, and excessive amounts of alcohol or salt in food all can play a role in the onset of high blood pressure. Stress tends to cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, which returns to normal once the stress is removed. Three-fourths of those diagnosed with high blood pressure are not controlled below the reading of 140/90.

In South Carolina alone, 40% of African Americans and 20% of Caucasians will die from hypertension-related disease. It is more common in African Americans and adults over the age of 50. More than half of all adults over 65 have hypertension. People in the southeastern U.S. have high rates of stroke due to untreated hypertension.

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Written by: Janice C. May, M.P.A.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Thursday September 26, 2019 9:09 AM