High blood pressure quite often runs in families particularly those of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin - it is more common in older people and in people who are obese, do not exercise, eat a diet high in salt, drink high amounts of alcohol and smoke and have high blood cholesterol levels.
These factors also significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and place a strain on the heart by forcing it to pump harder - heart muscle that has to work harder is more likely to fail, especially if the arteries supplying the heart muscle have also been damaged by atherosclerosis.
Hypertension can also be a problem for some women when they become pregnant and this is when some women first develop hypertension. There are several types of pregnancy–induced hypertension and all can harm the mother's kidneys and other organs, and can cause low birth weight and early delivery.
Preeclampsia is a serious condition of pregnancy and is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine as a result of kidney problems - Preeclampsia affects the placenta, and it can affect the mother's kidney, liver, and brain. When preeclampsia progresses and seizures develop, the condition is known as eclampsia which is a leading cause of maternal death and foetal complications, including low birth weight, premature birth, and stillbirth. Most women who develop signs of preeclampsia are closely monitored to lessen or to avoid related problems.
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2009