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Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that is caused by another condition. Several problems that affect the kidneys, endocrine system, and blood vessels can cause secondary hypertension. High blood pressure in a young person or that is very sudden or severe can indicate secondary hypertension.
This article discusses the causes, evaluation, and treatment of secondary hypertension.
Primary vs. Secondary Hypertension
Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, is defined as high blood pressure that is not due to an underlying condition. This is the most common form of high blood pressure. It's responsible for 90% of cases.
Genetics, aging, and lifestyle factors like diet and a sedentary (inactive) lifestyle can contribute to primary hypertension.
Secondary hypertension, on the other hand, is high blood pressure that is directly caused by another condition. Secondary hypertension should be suspected when high blood pressure:
- Occurs or worsens abruptly
- Is diagnosed at a young age
- Is not controlled with multiple medications
- Has certain characteristics that suggest an underlying cause
What Is Considered High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension is generally defined as blood pressure that exceeds 130/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) on multiple readings. It can be classified as primary or secondary depending on whether it is directly caused by another condition.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Dietary patterns such as high salt intake, smoking, diabetes, and obesity
Anyone with elevated blood pressure should be monitored by a healthcare provider for treatment. Those with very elevated readings that accompany symptoms (such as severe headache or confusion), and those with chest pain or weakness on one side of the face or body should seek medical attention immediately.