Despite being such a common problem, very little is known about what causes high blood pressure. In over 90% of the cases the cause is unknown. On the other hand, a lot of factors have been identified as potential hypertension causes.
Hypertension is divided into essential (or primary) hypertension and secondary (or inessential) hypertension. Essential hypertension is by far the most common, accounting for almost 95% of the cases. Secondary hypertension, which accounts for roughly 5% of the cases, means that the high blood pressure is caused by (secondary to) an identifiable underlying cause.
A lot of different causes of secondary hypertension have been identified. The most common are kidney diseases, endocrine (or endocrinological) diseases and tumors. Secondary hypertension can also be a side effect of medication or occur during pregnancy. Secondary hypertension often appears suddenly. But since the cause is known, proper treatment can often lower the blood pressure. Secondary hypertension is seldom a long term problem and this means that is seldom causes serious health problems.
As mentioned earlier, most people suffer from essential hypertension. Essential high blood pressure has no clear cause and it is often thought to be linked to a number of causes. Research has indicated that in some cases, genetic defects or genetic differences can cause hypertension or increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. In the US, African Americans are more likely to develop hypertension than Caucasians.
But in most cases, life style factors seem to be the main causes of hypertension. This is good news since you can change your life style. It requires will power, often a lot of will power, to change your life style but given the serious health problems caused by hypertension it is certainly worth the effort. The main suspected causes of essential hypertension are stress, overweight (obesity), lack of physical activity, diabetes, high level of sodium (salt) intake and high level of alcohol consumption.