As your heart beats, blood is pushed against your artery walls and through your body’s veins and capillaries. Blood pressure is exactly what it sounds like – the pressure of the blood as it pushes against the artery walls. High blood pressure means the pressure inside the arteries is higher than normal.
Hearing you have high blood pressure does not mean you have a disease. However, high blood pressure can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels, leading to hypertensive heart disease. High blood pressure can also cause problems for your brain, eyes, and kidneys.
By understanding the impact of high blood pressure in men, you can take steps to lower your blood pressure to a more normal state. This article examines high blood pressure, also called hypertension, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
What Blood Pressure is High?
Blood pressure readings measure systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is when the heart pumps blood out into the arteries, indicating the pressure of the blood against the artery walls during the heartbeats. Diastolic pressure shows the pressure of the blood against the arterial walls while the heart is at rest between the beats. Both measurements lead to a blood pressure reading.
Your healthcare provider will take a reading of your blood pressure using a blood pressure cuff that is tightened around your upper arm. The two numbers in your reading measure the systolic (first) pressure followed by the diastolic (second) pressure. A normal measurement is less than 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic), or 120/80 mmHg.
The higher the number, the greater your risk of developing problems such as heart disease, stroke, or heart attack.
What Are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
Diagnosing high blood pressure in men can be tricky because there are no early symptoms of hypertension. Many people do not know their blood pressure levels are too high unless they check them regularly. It is not until many years later that long-term elevated blood pressure levels will have an effect; by then, significant damage to the heart may have already occurred. That is also why hypertension is called the “silent killer.”
The heart is a muscle, and increased pressure on the artery walls will do what any exercise does to a muscle – it causes it to thicken. The workload on your heart and blood vessel walls increases. As the heart continues to work harder, the increased muscle thickness may prevent it from getting enough oxygen. Lack of oxygen can cause weakening in the heart, leading to chest pain (angina) and potential heart failure.
High cholesterol is another concern, as it can leave bad (LDL) cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels. As the blood vessel walls thicken, these cholesterol deposits (plaque) block blood movement. Plaque buildup leads to atherosclerosis, narrowing the inside of the arteries. Stroke and heart attack risks increase. Sadly, many people do not realize they have a concern until it is too late.
By that time, some symptoms may become apparent, including:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical help, as high blood pressure levels may have reached a dangerous stage.
Causes of High Blood Pressure in Men
It is often difficult to pinpoint a specific cause of high blood pressure in men or women. Specific risk factors, both non-modifiable and modifiable, can greaten your incidence of developing hypertension. We will examine these risk factors in the next section.
Primary or essential hypertension is a prime example of having no identifiable cause. It develops gradually over many years, often associated with plaque buildup in the arteries.
Certain other conditions can contribute to the development of high blood pressure in the form of secondary hypertension. Because this form of high blood pressure has an underlying cause, it often appears more quickly and includes the following:
- Adrenal gland tumors – may release hormones that increase blood pressure
- Aldosteronism – excess aldosterone secretion that alters sodium, water, and potassium levels
- End-stage renal (kidney) disease – which causes body fluid retention due to reduced kidney functions
- Illegal drugs – including amphetamines and cocaine
- Medications – some drugs that can alter blood pressure levels include cold and cough remedies, birth control pills, inflammation medications, and treatments for headaches and migraines
- Obstructive sleep apnea – the continual stopping and starting of breathing can increase pressure on the heart
- Thyroid disease – inadequate thyroid function can alter the production of crucial hormones that help regulate metabolism
Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
Several risk factors can increase the incidence of high blood pressure in men. One thing to note is that women have double the chance of developing hypertension than men, but that does not mean you should let your guard down.
Factors that increase the risk of high blood pressure include:
- Age – blood pressure levels rise with age (before age 64 in men, after age 65 in women)
- Alcohol – more than two drinks a day for men (one for women) can increase hypertension risk
- Diet – foods high in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat can increase blood pressure
- Exercise – a sedentary lifestyle and little to no exercise can increase the risk
- Family history – genetics can increase the risk, often because of shared environments and diets
- Gender – women have twice the risk as men
- Health conditions – diabetes, obesity, and pregnancy can increase blood pressure levels
- Low potassium – helps balance sodium levels
- Race – Black people have the highest risk of developing high blood pressure than other races
- Smoking or vaping – nicotine increases blood pressure levels, as does the carbon monoxide produced from smoking, decreasing the oxygen level in the blood
- Stress – can temporarily increase blood pressure levels and increase the incidence of turning to other risk factors, such as overeating, drinking, or smoking
Stress also influences hormone balance in the body, increasing the risk of high blood pressure. We will examine this more closely in the next section.
How Hormone Therapy Helps Treat Hypertension
Stress has many negative impacts on the body, including weakening the immune system, interfering with sleep, causing an increase in unhealthy habits, and lowering other vital hormone levels.
An important factor of stress is that it increases the body’s production of cortisol. High levels of cortisol can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Cortisol opposes human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone. When cortisol levels rise, HGH and testosterone levels decline.
Adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD) is associated with high blood pressure levels. People are more likely to be obese and have elevated LDL and total cholesterol levels, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance. Research has shown blood pressure levels to be higher in adults with AGHD.
In various studies, low testosterone has also been shown to increase the risk of hypertension. Smoking and family histories can further enhance that risk. Because testosterone production begins to decrease while men are in their mid to late twenties, they have an earlier risk of hypertension than women.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can significantly restore hormonal balance and lower the risk of hypertension. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) benefits men with low testosterone levels. HGH therapy or peptides can help with AGHD. Seeking the guidance of a qualified hormone specialist or endocrinologist is crucial to help you maintain proper hormone balance in your body.
Tips to Prevent High Blood Pressure in Men
There are steps you can take to lower your risk of high blood pressure in men, including:
- Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Lower salt intake
- Get 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise to help lower blood pressure levels
- Keep blood sugar in balance as insulin can prevent glucose from entering the cells
- Do not smoke
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night
- Limit alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men
- Keep your weight at a healthy level
- Reduce stress
- Have regular check-ups and blood pressure readings
- Check your hormone levels as you age to keep them in proper balance
Taking charge of your health can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure in men.
FAQ About High Blood Pressure in Men
You risk developing conditions such as heart failure, kidney failure, and stroke if high blood pressure levels go untreated.
Take the readings at the same time of day, as they fluctuate, especially depending on your activities. Have your blood pressure levels checked every two years after age 18. If you are over age 40, check your blood pressure at least once a year, more often, or younger if you have risk factors.
- Elevated blood pressure: 120-129 systolic and below 80 diastolic
- Stage 1 hypertension: 130-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or higher systolic or 90 diastolic
- Hypertensive crisis: higher than 180 systolic and/or 120 diastolic
Get immediate help if your blood pressure levels fall in the hypertensive crisis range.
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