Hypertension is a common disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that hypertension affects 1.13 billion people worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
If you want to avoid hypertension, you need to know more about the causes and risk factors to be able able to notice the problem early -in case it affects you- and seek early treatment. Keep in mind it is mostly asymptomatic and may progress to dangerous complications without remarkable effects (which is why is named a silent killer).
Hypertension is classified according to its causes into types:
- Primary hypertension (Essential hypertension): This type has no apparent causes, but it has a strong association with some risk factors.
It is the most common and represents 90-95% of hypertensive patients.
- Secondary hypertension: This type has specific causes leading to it.
It is less common and represents 5-10% of hypertensive patients.
First, let’s discuss the risk factors of primary hypertension.
These risk factors are divided into two categories:
Non-modifiable risk factors (personal risk factors)
- Age: The risk of hypertension increases with age as the walls of blood vessels lose their elasticity. It is more common among people over 65 years, and uncommon among patients aged 20 years or less.
- Gender: Below the age of 50, hypertension affects males more than females, but after 50, it affects females more than males due to the hormonal changes in menopause.
- Familial history: Hypertension runs in families. Thus, the risk is higher in people from families with a medical history of this disease.
- Race: The risk of hypertension is higher in black people (e.g. African-American people). They usually develop hypertension at an earlier age and will be more susceptible to its complications than other races.