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Causes of Hypertension: What Makes Blood Pressure Go Up?

Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD · General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Oct 19, 2022

Causes of Hypertension: What Makes Blood Pressure Go Up?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition that refers to the force of the blood flowing through a patient’s body through the arteries. High blood pressure is usually characterized by the patient’s heart pumping more blood than average and the patient having arteries that are narrower than usual. If left unchecked, high blood pressure increases a patient’s risk of heart attack and stroke. In this article, we talk about the causes of hypertension, as well as its signs, symptoms, and method of diagnosis. 

Types and causes of hypertension

There are two types of hypertension:

Primary hypertension. Also known as essential hypertension, this is the most common type of hypertension. This is most likely the result of numerous genetic and environmental factors that have multiple additive effects on the structure and function of the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. The development of this condition is spread out over years. This condition is a culmination of a patient’s environment, lifestyle, family history, physical activity, diet, and age.

Secondary hypertension. This condition occurs when the effects of a certain medicine or a correlated health problem cause high blood pressure. The causes of this kind of hypertension include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Primary Kidney problems, including acute and chronic kidney disease
  • Problems relating to the adrenal gland or thyroid
  • Medications such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, pain killers and paracetamol, oral steroids, and decongestants.
  • Illicit drug use as drugs like methamphetamines (shabu) and cocaine can raise blood pressure

High blood pressure develops over an extended period of time, Many factors can be causes of hypertension. It can occur to individuals that do not get enough exercise, as well as those who have diets that are high in fat and salt. It is also worth noting that certain health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, can increase a patient’s risk for high blood pressure. 

High blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is gestational hypertension.

Signs and symptoms of hypertension

Early on, patients with hypertension can be asymptomatic. Thus, it is highly encouraged to have regular blood pressure check-ups.

A multitude of patients with hypertension experience symptoms like nosebleeds, shortness of breath, and headaches with varying severity. However, those symptoms can mimic symptoms of other conditions. Usually, these symptoms become apparent once blood pressure has reached and maintained high level over an extended period of time.

How doctors diagnose hypertension

Aside from knowing the causes of hypertension, it’s important to know how to spot it.

High blood pressure is diagnosed with a blood pressure monitor. In this test, a doctor or nurse wraps a band around the patient’s arm. This band comes with a meter and pump. The person administering the test pumps the cuff and listens for pulsations as the meter reading drops.

The meter displays two numbers that make up a patient’s blood pressure. The number on the top of the meter is the systolic reading, which is the peak blood pressure when one’s heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body.

Meanwhile, the number on the bottom is the patient’s diastolic reading. This is the pressure a patient feels in his or her heart when it is filling up with blood, which completes the circulation process.

As a general rule, medical practitioners identify normal blood pressure as less than 120/80 mmHg. This is true regardless of the causes of a person’s hypertension. The following are the different stages of a patient’s blood pressure level:

  • Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mm/Hg in systolic and less than 80 in diastolic.
  • Prehypertension is between 120 – 139 mm/Hg on top and 80-89 on the bottom.
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure is 140-159 mm/Hg on top and 90-99 on the bottom.
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure is 160 or higher mm/Hg on top and at least 100 on the bottom.

Medical experts highly recommend having an annual check up for blood pressure, especially for people who are 18 years old and above or those who are at risk for the various causes of hypertension.

Key takeaways

The causes of hypertension of high blood pressure include lifestyle and diet factors such as smoking and alcoholism, age, and family medical history. If you have hypertension, consult your doctor on the lifestyle and diet changes necessary to address the condition. 

Learn about Hypertension here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Oct 19, 2022

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