Insights into high blood pressure

High blood pressure is a very common problem that affects more than 1 billion people worldwide.1 It is more common as people grow older.1 The exact causes of most cases of high blood pressure have not been identified. However, several traits or risk factors – some modifiable and others non-modifiable – are associated with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.

Modifiable risk factors

Modifiable risk factors for hypertension include smoking, physical inactivity, body weight, psychological stress, and excessive alcohol intake.2

Non-modifiable risk factors

Major non-modifiable risk factors include family history, older age, race and gender.2

Family background is an important non-modifiable risk factor. You are more likely to develop high blood pressure if one or both of your parents have high blood pressure, compared to individuals whose parents have blood pressure in the normal range (normotensive).2


  1. WHO. A Global Brief on Hypertension. Geneva (Switzerland); 2013.
  2. Kaplan NM. Clinical Hypertension, 9ed. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2006.