What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Learn what high blood pressure (hypertension) is and discover what makes your blood pressure reading rise
Before you can truly understand how to lower high blood pressure (hypertension), it’s important to know what blood pressure is and what contributes to it.
Your blood pressure reading is made up of two numbers. Both of them refer to the amount of pressure that pulses against the inside of your arteries as blood is pumped through them.
The top number is your systolic pressure. It corresponds to the amount of force created as blood is pumped into your arteries, and they expand. The second number is your diastolic pressure. It signifies the force that results when your arteries contract and resist the flow of blood. Receptors in the kidneys keep track of pressure and send hormone signals to the heart to speed up or slow down as needed.
A normal blood pressure reading is a systolic pressure of less than 120 mmHg over a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mmHg. Prehypertension (pre-high blood pressure) is defined as a systolic reading of 120–139 or a diastolic reading of 80–89. Those with Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension) have a systolic pressure of 140–159 or a diastolic pressure of 90–99. Stage 2 high blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 160 or higher or a diastolic pressure of 100 or higher. Finally, hypertensive crisis—where emergency care is needed—is defined as blood pressure with a systolic reading of higher than 180 or a diastolic reading of higher than 110. It is estimated that 73 million Americans have high blood pressure and uncontrolled high blood pressure.
The leading causes of high blood pressure include:
- Being overweight
- A high-sugar diet and/or a high-salt diet
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Lack of exercise
- Thick blood
WATCH: Learn How Oxidative Stress in the Arteries Leads to High Blood Pressure
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Understanding Blood Pressure
What are the symptoms and risk factors associated with high blood pressure? Learn why high blood pressure is so dangerous.
How do you know if your blood pressure reading is accurate? Find out the important steps you need to take to get the most accurate blood pressure reading.
Are you a woman with blood pressure concerns? Discover why women are especially susceptible to high blood pressure and its negative impact on health.
Enjoy What You've Just Read?
Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides for Dr. Sinatra!
Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra's Favorites
Doctor-recommended support for healthy cholesterol ratios, blood pressure & overall heart health
Refuel your cellular engines for efficient heart function
Strength, energy, endurance--get the targeted nutrient support a man needs most
Stay youthful, healthy, vibrant and balanced with nutrient support designed to meet a woman's needs