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Ever wondered what causes high blood pressure? Read on to find out

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Lucknow: What was once considered an issue that only affected the elderly has now become one that even youngsters deal with. Though people mindlessly pop medicine in a desperate attempt to manage their high blood pressure levels, very few try to look out for the reason behind this lifelong ailment.

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It is believed that, early life changes in brain activity and blood flow can be the reason why people tend to develop abnormally high blood pressure, or hypertension. 

High blood pressure is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high.

It is also often called the silent killer because it typically has no symptoms until after it has done significant damage to the heart and the arteries.

In 90-95 per cent of people, high blood pressure has no identifiable cause, yet it is a risk factor for diseases of the brain, kidneys, heart, eyes, and other parts of the body, said a group of researchers at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Russia.

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For the study, published in Experimental Physiology, the team investigated physiological changes in a rat model called ISIAH, short for inherited stress-induced arterial hypertension.

These rats develop high blood pressure at four to six weeks of age, and this is sustained throughout their lifetime.

The researchers compared the high blood pressure rats to a control group with normal blood pressure.

As the mice in high blood pressure group grew older, changes in rates of blood flow in certain arteries were observed.

In addition, changes were found in the brain activity, specifically a decrease in the prefrontal cortex — the brain region associated with cognition, decision-making and working memory — as well as an increase in the hypothalamus — an area of the brain that controls mood and appetite.

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“The study of early physiological changes may help clarify the cause of high blood pressure. Understanding this could help us prevent the disease early on,” said led author Alisa Seryapina from the Institute of Cytology and Genetics.

Common risk factors in individuals who may develop hypertension

Right from issues like diabetes to lifestyle concerns like an absence of physical activity, there are many risk factors for high blood pressure.

A person who is obese needs additional blood to carry oxygen to the heart. When the blood flow increases, it adds more pressure on the walls of your arteries.

Smokers or ones who consume tobacco must beware, for the toxic chemicals in tobacco harm the lining of arterial walls, which narrows the walls. This results in increased risk of stroke or heart attacks.

If your forefathers had high blood pressure, you may find that you have it due to your genetics.

Excess consumption of sodium or salty food can cause spike in blood pressure.

Consumption of even one glass of liquor daily by women and over 2 glasses by men can increase blood pressure.

Stress due to work or personal life also adds to the risk.

Whether or not you experience some of these risk factors, you should know that the risk of hypertension is one that children face as well as adults. If you suspect you’ve had high blood pressure, you must consult your general physician at the earliest.

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