Several risk factors are associated with the development of hypertension:
- Family History – parents or other immediate family members who have high blood pressure increase your patent’s risk. The American Health Association recommends monitoring blood pressure readings identifying any changes.
- Age – as Americans age, the more likely blood pressure readings can increase. Blood vessels lose elastic quality which can increase blood pressure.
- Gender-related risk patterns – until age 45, men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women. However, as women reach 65 years and older they are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
- Race – African American patients tend to develop high blood pressure at a younger age and is more severe than Caucasian dental patients.
- Overweight/obesity and lack of physical activity – weight gain places a strain in the heart and the circulatory system, increasing your patients’ risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.
- Poor diet – a diet high in calories, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium can contribute to weight gain and an increase in sodium blood levels.
- Sleep apnea – correlated with lack of sleep and oxygen levels can contribute to high blood pressure.
- Drinking too much alcohol – regular, heavy use of alcohol can contribute to cardiovascular disease, stroke, irregular heartbeats, and cancer to name a few.
- Tobacco use – increases blood pressure temporarily and damages arteries.
- Stress – contributes to behaviors that can exacerbate blood pressure such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, and the use of tobacco and alcohol products.
Left untreated, high blood pressure increases the load of the heart and arteries causing damage to the circulatory system over time, such as heart enlargement, atherosclerosis where the walls of the arteries become stiff and brittle as fatty deposits develop inside the artery walls. Untreated high blood pressure may lead to coronary heart disease, angina, myocardial infarction, stroke, kidney damage, peripheral artery disease, and heart failure. Recent statistics show 74% of American adults who have congestive heart failure, 77% of Americans who have had a stroke, and 69% of American adults who have had a myocardial infarction had blood pressure readings over 140/90.