Hypertension Types

Types of Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can arise from a variety of different causes. Different types of hypertension cause slightly different symptoms, can affect different areas of the body, and arise from different conditions.

Primary Hypertension

Primary hypertension is the most common type of high blood pressure, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of all hypertension cases. Also known as “essential” or “idiopathic” hypertension, primary hypertension has no detectable cause.

Primary hypertension risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Genetics
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Tobacco use.

Lifestyle changes, stress management, and dietary changes are the first treatments used for primary hypertension. Medication is prescribed in some cases.

Secondary Hypertension

“Secondary hypertension” describes high blood pressure with an identifiable cause. Only 5 to 10 percent of all hypertension cases are characterized as secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension risk factors include heart disease, kidney failure, hormonal imbalances, liver failure, and use of certain medications, among other factors.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension refers to high blood pressure in the arteries that transport oxygen to the lungs. Unlike most types of hypertension, pulmonary hypertension can cause hypertension in the lungs while the rest of the body has normal (or even low) blood pressure.

Causes of pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Certain medications
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Emphysema.

Malignant Hypertension

Malignant hypertension is one of the most aggressive types of hypertension. Most common in people with kidney disease, malignant hypertension causes extremely high blood pressure and swelling in the optic nerve. Malignant hypertension is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention to avoid organ damage.

Resistant Hypertension

Some types of hypertension refuse to drop below 140/90 mmHg, despite medication and other forms of treatment. If three or more medications fail to improve high blood pressure, the condition is considered “resistant.”

High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause hypertension, especially in obese women or women experiencing their first pregnancy. Pregnancy-induced hypertension can progress into preeclampsia, which in severe cases can be fatal.

“White Coat” Syndrome

It’s well-known that stress can cause blood pressure to rise. Some people get nervous in medical settings, so their blood pressure readings indicate hypertension, even though their regular blood pressure is lower. Doctors have termed this phenomenon “white coat” syndrome, as the presence of someone in a doctor’s white coat causes blood pressure to spike. However, some studies point out that such patients actually have hypertension, so follow-up is important.

Treating Types of Hypertension

Most types of hypertension can be treated, lowering both blood pressure and the risk of hypertension complications. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor can help you monitor your blood pressure levels and customize a treatment plan that’s right for you.


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