Can Anemia Cause High Blood Pressure?

Nearly half of adults in the US have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Unfortunately, only about 24% have their condition under control. Therefore, people need more awareness about this common condition, including its causes and treatments.¹

So what causes high blood pressure? Various factors can cause high blood pressure, including unhealthy lifestyle choices and certain medical conditions like diabetes and obesity.

Additionally, there have been claims that anemia may cause high blood pressure. This post discusses the link (if any) between anemia and high blood pressure. 

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Anemia and hypertension: What is the connection?

Anemia is a medical condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a long-term medical condition that can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.

While there is no direct link between anemia and hypertension, anemia can indirectly contribute to increased blood pressure levels. 

In cases of severe anemia, the body may produce hormones that cause constriction of the blood vessels. This can lead to a rise in blood pressure due to reduced oxygen delivery throughout the body, resulting in increased strain.

It is essential to speak with your doctor if you have anemia or hypertension symptoms to identify and treat the underlying causes properly. Moreover, anemia is associated with higher cardiovascular risk. Therefore, hemoglobin should be closely monitored in hypertensive patients. 

Many hypertensive patients have normocytic anemia. Studies show lower hemoglobin concentrations in patients with uncontrolled hypertension than those with controlled hypertension, signaling a higher cardiovascular risk.²

The study also revealed that patients suffering from anemia had higher nocturnal systolic blood pressure. They also tended to have increased diastolic blood pressure compared to patients with normal hemoglobin levels.

However, more research is needed to establish the link between anemia and hypertension.

Anemia explained

Anemia is a medical condition caused by a lack of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Red blood cells and hemoglobin deliver oxygen to the body's tissues. 

When insufficient oxygen is delivered to body tissues, anemia symptoms can develop. These symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, pale skin, and shortness of breath. This can be a potentially serious condition, so it is crucial to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for anemia. 

It's worth noting that anemia affects millions of people worldwide. Moreover, different types of anemia exist, each with unique causes, symptoms, and treatments. 

Types of anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia

This type of anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the diet or by the body's inability to absorb iron properly. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide. It can be treated with dietary changes (increasing iron-rich foods or taking supplements), intravenous (IV) iron therapy, or iron pills. 

Pernicious anemia 

Pernicious anemia occurs when there is a problem with the absorption of vitamin B12 from food. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells. Pernicious anemia can be treated with vitamin B12 supplements or injections. 

Sickle cell anemia

Sickle cell anemia is caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin gene. People with sickle cell anemia have red blood cells shaped like crescent moons (sickles). These sickled red blood cells block small blood vessels and prevent oxygen from reaching tissues and organs.

Treatment for sickle cell anemia includes medication to relieve pain and prevent complications, hydration, and blood transfusions. 

Thalassemia

Thalassemia occurs when there is a problem with hemoglobin production. There are two types of thalassemia: alpha thalassemia and beta thalassemia, referring to the part of the hemoglobin molecule that is not being produced correctly. 

Alpha thalassemia occurs when there is a problem with alpha globin production. Beta thalassemia occurs when there is a problem with beta globin production.

Thalassemia can be treated with medication, blood transfusions, chelation therapy (a treatment that removes excess iron from the body), or surgery to remove part of the liver (liver transplant). 

Common causes of anemia

There are many different causes of anemia. Some are more common than others. Common causes of anemia include: 

Blood loss

This can occur due to heavy menstrual periods, gastrointestinal bleeding, or trauma. Blood loss can also happen slowly over time, which can be difficult to detect. This is called chronic blood loss, and conditions like ulcers or cancer can cause it.

Poor nutrition

 A diet that does not include enough iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. 

Inherited conditions

Some people are born with genetic disorders that cause anemia, such as sickle cell disease or thalassemia. 

Chronic diseases

Conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to anemia. 

Symptoms of anemia

The symptoms of anemia can range from mild to severe, and they may develop slowly or suddenly. Common symptoms of anemia include:

  • Fatigue 

  • Weakness 

  • Pale skin 

  • Shortness of breath 

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 

  • Chest pain 

  • Cold hands and feet 

  • Headache 

  • Irritability 

Treatment for anemia

Treatment for anemia will depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, treating the underlying condition will solve the problem. 

For example, if you have an ulcer-causing gastrointestinal bleeding, treatment will focus on healing the ulcer. If you have cancer, treatment will focus on cancer itself. 

In other cases, treatment will focus on managing the symptoms of anemia. This may involve taking medication or supplements to increase your body's iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12 levels. In severe cases of anemia, a blood transfusion may be necessary. 

Understanding hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition in which the force of your blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the size and elasticity of your arteries.

The causes of hypertension are varied and often unknown. However, some factors can increase your risk of developing hypertension, including:

  • A family history of hypertension

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Stress

  • Age (risk increases as you get older)

  • African American heritage

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Sleep apnea 

If you have any of these risk factors, you should speak with your doctor about ways to reduce your risk of developing hypertension. 

In some cases, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise may be enough to keep your blood pressure in check. In other cases, medication may be necessary. 

Symptoms of hypertension

In many cases, hypertension doesn't cause any symptoms. This is why it's often referred to as a "silent killer." However, in some cases, people with hypertension may experience the following symptoms: 

  • Headaches 

  • Shortness of breath 

  • Nosebleeds 

  • Dizziness 

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's essential to see your doctor so they can confirm whether or not you have hypertension and develop a treatment plan accordingly. If untreated, hypertension can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease and stroke. 

Treating hypertension 

The good news is that hypertension is treatable. If you're diagnosed with hypertension, working with your doctor to develop a treatment plan is essential to preventing complications such as heart attack or stroke. 

Treatment for hypertension may include lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, quitting smoking cigarettes, managing stress levels, limiting alcohol intake, and taking medications as prescribed. 

These changes can help reduce your blood pressure and improve your overall health.

The lowdown 

Anemia and hypertension are two conditions affecting millions of people worldwide. While there's no direct link between the two conditions, anemia might contribute to high blood pressure. However, more research is needed to clarify the connection between anemia and hypertension.

Frequently asked questions

What is high blood pressure?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition in which the force of your blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Is there a connection between anemia and high blood pressure?

While there's no direct link, several studies have revealed that anemia may contribute to high blood pressure. However, more research is still needed to establish this link.

Curious about clinical trials for Anemia?

Researchers are studying thousands of new treatments and you could be a part of finding a cure while accessing the newest treatments for Anemia.

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