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Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

Anyone can develop high blood pressure; however, age, race or ethnicity, being overweight, gender, lifestyle habits, and a family history of high blood pressure can increase your risk for developing high blood pressure.


Blood pressure tends to rise with age. About 65 percent of Americans age 60 or older have high blood pressure. However, the risk for prehypertension and high blood pressure is increasing for children and teens, possibly due to the rise in the number of overweight children and teens.


High blood pressure is more common in African American adults than in Caucasian or Hispanic American adults. Compared with these ethnic groups, African Americans:

  • Tend to get high blood pressure earlier in life.
  • Often, on average, have higher blood pressure numbers.
  • Are less likely to achieve target blood pressure goals with treatment.


You are more likely to develop prehypertension or high blood pressure if you’re overweight or obese. The terms “overweight” and “obese” refer to body weight that’s greater than what is considered healthy for a certain height.


Before age 55, men are more likely than women to develop high blood pressure. After age 55, women are more likely than men to develop high blood pressure.

Lifestyle Habits

Unhealthy lifestyle habits can raise your risk for high blood pressure, and they include:

  • Eating too much sodium or too little potassium
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Stress

Family History

A family history of high blood pressure raises the risk of developing prehypertension or high blood pressure. Some people have a high sensitivity to sodium and salt, which may increase their risk for high blood pressure and may run in families. Genetic causes of this condition are why family history is a risk factor for this condition.

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Last Updated: September 10, 2015