Hypertension Types

Published: April 19, 2010

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Overview

There are two main types of hypertension, and there are four types of hypertension that are less common. Depending on the type of hypertension, the cause could be known or unknown. It is suspected that hypertension results from a combination of factors related to genetics, diet, and lifestyle.

Primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension, is the most common type of hypertension. With this type of hypertension, there is no single identifiable cause for high blood pressure. While an explanation might be possible, no underlying disease, condition, or disorder causes the high blood pressure to occur. Instead, hypertension occurs because your genes, diet, and lifestyle. You may be able to keep your hypertension under control by monitoring your diet, reducing your salt intake, exercising, and relaxing in order to reduce stress levels.

Secondary hypertension is a less common form of the disease that occurs because of a specific condition. Disorders including sleep apnea, tumors, and kidney failure can all cause hypertension to occur as a side effect. If you treat the underlying condition, the hypertension will subside.

The four less common types of hypertension include malignant hypertension, isolated systolic hypertension, white coat hypertension, and resistant hypertension.

Primary Hypertension

Primary hypertension is the most common type of hypertension and accounts for 95% of cases. It is a complex disorder with no isolated cause. Many factors can put you at risk for primary hypertension including obesity, diet, environment, stress, and sedentary lifestyle. High sodium and family history of hypertension can also put you at risk for this condition. Even though there is no single identifiable cause, a variety of factors can trigger the condition.

Generally, primary hypertension runs in the family. If your parents or grandparents had it, then you are likely to develop the condition as well. For this reason, it is important that you undergo regular screenings to treat hypertension before it becomes serious and causes life-threatening complications.

Doctors will treat primary hypertension by encouraging you to undergo certain lifestyle modifications. You may need to lose weight, adjust your diet, or adopt a regular fitness routine to keep your symptoms under control. If these lifestyle modifications are unsuccessful, then you may need to start taking medication on a daily basis to keep your symptoms under control.

Secondary Hypertension

With this type of high blood pressure, the cause is apparent and can be an underlying condition such as a thyroid problem or Cushing's syndrome. Problems with the kidneys, sleep apnea, and some conditions during pregnancy can cause secondary hypertension.

When you treat the original symptom, the secondary hypertension will go away. In some cases, it may not be possible to treat the original symptom.

It may not be possible to recognize the cause of your hypertension unless other symptoms are present. Secondary hypertension accounts for a small number of hypertension causes, and without other symptoms, the doctor may not be aware that another condition is causing your symptoms.

Malignant Hypertension

With malignant hypertension, high blood pressure occurs suddenly and drastically. A person might experience numbness in the body as well as vision problems, extreme fatigue, confusion, anxiety, and seizures. Malignant hypertension is reversible when the underlying condition is cured. Malignant hypertension is very rare and affects both children and adults. Pregnant women are also at risk. Heart damage is a possibility with this type of hypertension.

Isolated Systolic Hypertension

This type of hypertension is a result of old age and a poor diet. The arteries become stiff, resulting in a high systolic number with a normal diastolic number. Isolated systolic hypertension does not have an identifiable cause. Risk factors include old age, obesity, using tobacco products, and having diabetes. Caucasian and black men are the groups that are highest at risk for developing this type of hypertension.

White Coat Hypertension

This type of hypertension occurs only when blood pressure is taken in a clinical setting. Outside of a doctor's office, blood pressure is normal. It is believed that these patients feel extremely stressed when they visit a clinic or doctor's office. You might want to try checking your blood pressure in other locations such as your home.

Resistant Hypertension

This type of hypertension is unresponsive to strong medications. In any case, treatments for resistant hypertension have been developed to keep the condition under control. Hypertension is called resistant if three medications fail to successfully treat the condition. At least four medications may be necessary to treat resistant hypertension.

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