The precise way people develop high blood pressure, known as hypertension, is unknown, according to WebMD. However, there are several risk factors for the disease, including obesity or excess weight, smoking, family history and too much salt in the diet.
People don't have control over all the risk factors for high blood pressure, such as age or family history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But people can control the other factors by making certain lifestyle choices.
The chances of developing high blood pressure increase with age, according to Mayo Clinic. Men are more likely than women to develop hypertension before age 45. After age 65, women have a greater chance of developing the condition. Race, another uncontrollable factor, also may increase the risk for high blood pressure.
Tobacco use causes an immediate, although temporary, rise in the blood pressure, according to Mayo Clinic. The chemicals in tobacco also damage the artery walls, causing the arteries to narrow and the blood pressure to increase.
High levels of sodium in the diet tend to increase blood pressure, as does a lack of potassium, according to Mayo Clinic. Too much sodium causes the body to retain water, which in turn raises blood pressure. Individuals who don't get enough potassium or who are unable to retain potassium accumulate more sodium in their systems. The excess sodium increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.