Secondary hypertension refers to high blood pressure that is caused by an underlying condition or disease. It means that elevated blood pressure is not the primary issue itself but rather a result of another health condition. Several conditions can contribute to secondary hypertension, including kidney disease, adrenal disease, thyroid problems, and obstructive sleep apnea.
In other words, when you have secondary hypertension, the focus is on identifying and treating the root cause or underlying condition that is leading to high blood pressure. By addressing and managing the primary condition, it becomes possible to better control and regulate blood pressure levels.
What is secondary hypertension?
Secondary hypertension occurs when your high blood pressure is caused by a specific disease or condition. Blood pressure is the force exerted by your blood against the walls of your blood vessels. A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80, where the top number represents the pressure during a heartbeat (systolic) and the bottom number represents the pressure between heartbeats (diastolic). If your blood pressure goes above this range, it's considered high.
Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, refers to high blood pressure without a known cause. On the other hand, secondary hypertension has an identifiable underlying cause. Your healthcare provider will monitor and treat your high blood pressure accordingly, aiming to bring it within a healthy range.
Secondary hypertension is relatively uncommon, affecting only 5 to 10 percent of the population. Due to its rarity, it is not always easily detected. Testing for secondary hypertension can be costly, so your healthcare provider will typically initiate testing when there is a strong suspicion of its presence. This approach helps ensure that resources are utilized effectively in identifying and diagnosing secondary hypertension.
What are the symptoms of secondary hypertension?
The symptoms of secondary hypertension can vary depending on the specific condition or disease that is causing it to occur alongside high blood pressure. It's important to note that managing high blood pressure with just one or two medications may be challenging. The guidelines set by the American Heart Association now consider a blood pressure reading of 130/80 or higher as high blood pressure.
Here are some examples of symptoms associated with certain conditions:
- Pheochromocytoma: Increased sweating, rapid or forceful heartbeats, headaches, anxiety.
- Cushing's syndrome: Weight gain, weakness, abnormal growth of body hair or changes in menstrual periods (in women), purple lines on the skin of the abdomen.
- Thyroid problems: Fatigue (feeling tired), weight gain or weight loss, sensitivity to heat or cold.
- Conn's syndrome or primary aldosteronism: Weakness due to low potassium levels in the body.
- Obstructive sleep apnea: Excessive daytime fatigue or sleepiness, snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep.
Remember, if you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns about your blood pressure, it's important to book an appointment with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and guidance.
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