1. AgeBeing older than age 55 is an important risk factor. Simply stated, the odds of developing high blood pressure increase as we get older.
2. EthnicityBeing black is associated with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. New studies are inconclusive on whether the risk is equivalent between African Americans and people of African heritage who have never left the African continent.1
3. GenderAt younger ages, women are less likely to develop high blood pressure than men. This risk equalizes later in life, but statistically, women are still less likely to develop high blood pressure, overall.
5. SmokingSmoking is the number 1 risk factor over which you have control. Smoking is such a powerful risk fator for so many different human diseases that doctors are encouraged to ask every patient who smokes if they would like to quit - every time they visit the office! Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health.
7. DietWhile there is evidence that specific items, such as salt, can worsen high blood pressure in certain individuals, the main impact that diet plays in high blood pressure risk is that it is a big factor in how much you weigh.
10. Other Medical ProblemsHormone imbalances, certain anatomic abnormalities, tumors, and other medical problems can cause a type of high blood pressure known as secondary hypertension.
1Fejerman, et al. The effect of Genetic Variation in Angiotensinogen on Serum Levels and Blood Pressure: A Comparison of Nigerians and US Blacks, Journal of Human Hyptertension, Sept 14, 2006.)
2Winnicki, et al., 2006, Lifestyle, Family History, and Progression of Hypertension, Journal of Hypertension, 24(8)1479-87