5 Surprising Facts about High Blood Pressure

By Michael Galvan | 01/12/2016

High blood pressure is known as “the silent killer.” This is because it has no obvious outward symptoms and accounts for more than 360,000 1 deaths in America each year. More than 1 billion people on earth have high blood pressure2 and even more are at risk for hypertension. These numbers are only expected to grow.

To help live a healthy long life, it is important to educate yourself on high blood pressure and take preventative steps.

Here are five facts about hypertension that may surprise you.

1. What's in that plastic bottle?

Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, is chemical found in prepackaged cans and plastic bottles that has been linked to hypertension and decreased heart rate.3 While there is still research to be done, it’s safer to opt for other containers like glass, porcelain, or stainless steel when possible. This is especially true when heating food in a container, as BPA has been shown to gradually break down after repeated heating.

2. Getting ZZZ's matters

An article in the Journal of Hypertension documents a link between adults with sleep apnea and hypertension.4 Adults needs 7-9 hours of restorative sleep every night for good health, as it is crucial for proper functioning of our immune system, our ability to deal with emotions, our memory, and our overall well-being; please see your doctor if you have any issues with sleep, whether it’s falling asleep or staying asleep.

3. Men should take note

Before age 45, men are more likely to develop hypertension than women. From the ages of 45 to 65, the numbers are about equal. After age 65, the trend reverses and more women are affected by high blood pressure than men.  These are important facts to keep in mind as you age. 

4. Where in the world are you?

In the United States, there is a strong correlation between geographic area and high blood pressure. This may be because of several factors, including, but not limited to: common food selections, exercise habits, and other environmental factors. The southeast region has the highest density of age-adjusted prevalence. Some of the states with the most cases of hypertension are: Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Other states with the smallest concentrations of hypertension are: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Hawaii, and Colorado. 

5. Another reason to love chocolate

Researchers at Harvard found that small amounts of dark chocolate that contain at least 50-70% cocoa have been linked to lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk for diabetes. It is important to remember though, that a little bit goes a long way. Over indulgence in this high calorie food can erase many of its benefits. If you do decide to have desert though, opt for solid dark chocolate.

While high blood pressure is linked to genetics, age and sex, you can take preventive steps to lower hypertension. By making healthful food choices, getting the right amount of sleep, and avoiding certain behaviors, we can reduce the number of people that die every year from high complication related to high blood pressure.
Remember, hypertension is the silent killer. Be sure to get your blood pressure checked early and often.



  1. Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2015 Update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015;e29-322.
  2. http://www.searo.who.int/entity/noncommunicable_diseases/media/non_communicable_diseases_hypertension_fs.pdf
  3. http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/12/08/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04261.short
  4. http://journals.lww.com/jhypertension/Abstract/2009/07000/Association_between_refractory_hypertension_and.17.aspx
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm