By Sharon Oliver, Contributing Writer

In addition to well-known causes like obesity, high blood pressure can also be influenced by several lesser-known factors.
In addition to well-known causes like obesity, high blood pressure can also be influenced by several lesser-known factors.

REGION – Anyone dealing with high blood pressure (HBP) is at least mildly aware of the usual suspects, or causes, for spikes. Stress, obesity, dehydration, certain medications, and genetics are some, to name a few. However, what may come as a surprise to many are a few other factors. While it is important to stay on top of your readings, it is equally important to know what could be behind those increased levels.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects the body’s arteries. The force of blood against the artery walls becomes too high, causing the heart to work harder in order to pump blood. High blood pressure is one of the most common symptoms associated with heart failure, kidney failure, vision loss and stroke. Although symptoms like headaches, nosebleeds and shortness of breath could signal a rise in HBP, there are often no indications at all. Thus it has earned the nickname “the silent killer.” Below are eight things that can send those diastolic and systolic numbers soaring.


Air pollution

Believe it or not, exposure to fine particulate matter found from car exhaust and burning fuel, dust from construction sites and roads can boost blood pressure levels. This is according to a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan.


Black licorice

Due to its glycyrrhizin content, this candy can cause the body to retain a large amount of salt and water which are known to cause potassium levels to fall and help blood pressure to rise. Some people even experience abnormal heart rhythms.


Full bladder

A full bladder can raise blood pressure by 10 to 15 points. Sometimes circumstances like traveling by car with no rest stop in immediate sight can delay relief. However, when the urge to go arrives, go right away if possible.



Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine disorder. Having too much thyroid hormone tends to speed up many bodily functions, including metabolism and heart rate, leading to a rise in systolic blood pressure.


Inactivity and isolation

According to a study conducted by Annalijn Conklin, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, 28,238 single adults between ages 45 and 85 with limited social activity were found to be linked to higher-than-average blood pressure.


Low diet of fruits and vegetables

Potassium, which is found in lots of fruits and vegetables, decreases blood pressure. It is suggested that men should have an intake of 3,400 milligrams of potassium per day while women should aim for around 2,600. As anyone who takes medication to help control HBP knows, doctors often stress the importance of limiting the amount of salt used in foods, especially since about 75% of sodium is already in many of the foods we eat. Foods like bananas, beans, dried fruit, and potatoes are good sources of potassium.



As with anything, certain medications do not mix well with a laundry list of things with people often joking about how the side effects seem worse than the initial problem. Therefore, be mindful about what you ingest, especially when it comes to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which can raise blood pressure. While decongestants are tailored to give relief from the common cold, they can also raise blood pressure. Even herbal supplements like gingko and ginseng can be of concern.


Lack of sleep

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to stop and restart breathing throughout the night which can cause a spike in blood pressure. Also, studies have discovered that lack of sleep or interrupted sleep can bump up blood pressure as well.

For tips on how to control high blood pressure, visit



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