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Hypertension: Introduction

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a very common and serious condition that can lead to and/or complicate many health problems. These include coronary heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and heart failure. About one in three adults in the U.S. have hypertension, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

There are three general types of hypertension. Essential hypertension occurs when the condition has no known cause. When hypertension is caused by another condition or disease process, it is called secondary hypertension. When only the systolic blood pressure number (the top number) is high, it is called isolated systolic hypertension, which is common in older adults.

Hypertension has a variety of causes. Blood pressure generally tends to rise with age. Hypertension can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as thyroid disease or chronic kidney disease. Hypertension may also be a side effect of certain medications, such as over-the-counter cold medications and oral contraceptives ("the Pill") and other hormone drugs. Obesity and heredity also play a role in the development of hypertension.

Hypertension is often called "the silent killer" because it generally has no symptoms until serious complications develop. When symptoms do occur, they can differ between individuals depending on such factors as the level of blood pressure, age, underlying cause, medical history, the presence of complications and general health. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of hypertension.

Blood pressure is defined as the pressure that is put on the walls of the arteries as blood is pumped through the circulatory system. Blood pressure is measured as a two numbers (i.e. 120/80nnHg) but it is not a fixed number. Normally, blood pressure rises and falls as a response to many situations. For example, blood pressure will rise during strenuous activity in order to ensure that all the cells of the body get additional amounts of oxygen-rich blood. Blood pressure may also rise in response to stressful situations, and it is normally lower during periods of relaxation or sleep. It is the cumulative effects of blood pressure that is stays too high that results in serious complications.

Making a diagnosis of hypertension includes performing a complete evaluation that includes a medical history and physical examination and a series of blood pressure readings.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers, (i.e.120/80mmHg). The "top" number is called the systolic number, which is a measurement of the pressure on the artery walls when the heart beats. The "bottom" number is the diastolic number, which is a measurement of the pressure on the artery walls when the heart is resting between beats.

Many people think of a reading of 120/80mmHg as "normal". In fact there are many variations of normal that are dependent on a variety of factors. Unless a blood pressure reading is very high and needs to be addressed immediately, blood pressure readings will be monitored over period of time to assess for trends and to get an idea of an individual's overall blood pressure.

As a very general guide, adults should keep their blood pressure below 140/90mmHg. In addition, current guidelines consider consistent readings over 120/80mmHg as a condition called pre-hypertension, which should be monitored and addressed to ensure that blood pressure does not rise higher over time.

It is very possible that a diagnosis of hypertension can be missed or delayed because there are generally no symptoms in the early stages. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of hypertension.

Patient compliance with a good treatment plan generally results in a normalization of blood pressure and also minimizes complications. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of hypertension. ...more »

Hypertension: Hypertension is the condition of having high blood pressure. It is very common and affects around 50 million Americans of which about 30% are not yet diagnosed (NHLBI). Hypertension is an under-diagnosed condition because it causes damage to the body with no symptoms or only mild symptoms. It has been called a "silent killer" for this reason.

Correct diagnosis of the cause of high blood pressure is important. Most cases of chronic hypertension are "primary hypertension" but a small percentage are "secondary hypertension" where the rise in blood pressure is caused by another underlying condition. Hypertension during pregnancy is another common special case; it is called gestational hypertension, preeclampsia or eclampsia depending on its severity. ...more »

Hypertension: Symptoms

Most people are not aware that they have hypertension because of a general lack of symptoms until major complications arise. In rare cases, some people with hypertension may have headaches or nosebleeds.

Despite a general lack of symptoms, uncontrolled hypertension damages the kidney and heart and large and small blood vessels throughout the ...more symptoms »

Hypertension: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for hypertension uses a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans are also individualized to best address the specific cause and the patient's age, medical history, and severity of hypertension. Hypertension is highly treatable and in most people, prompt and ongoing treatment will result in a normalization of blood pressure and in minimizing the risk of ...more treatments »

Hypertension: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of hypertension begins with taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam that includes blood pressure monitoring. A diagnosis of hypertension may be overlooked or delayed because in its early stages there generally are no symptoms until complications arise.

When there are symptoms, such as headache or ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Hypertension

Treatments for Hypertension

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Hypertension:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Hypertension?

Hypertension: Related Patient Stories

Hypertension: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Hypertension.

Alternative Treatments for Hypertension

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Hypertension may include:

Types of Hypertension

Curable Types of Hypertension

Possibly curable types of Hypertension include:

  • Eclampsia of pregnancy
  • Hyperthyroidism induced hypertension
  • Cushing's disease induced hypertension
  • Conn's syndrome induced hypertension
  • Drug induced hypertension- NSAIDs, hormonal contraceptives, steroids
  • Tumours of the kidney induced hypertension
  • more types...»

Rare Types of Hypertension:

Rare types of Hypertension include:

Diagnostic Tests for Hypertension

Test for Hypertension in your own home

Click for Tests
  • Sphygmomanometer (arm cuff blood pressure test)
  • Home blood pressure tests
  • Finger cuff blood pressure test
  • more tests...»

Hypertension: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Hypertension:

Causes of Hypertension

More information about causes of Hypertension:

Disease Topics Related To Hypertension

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Hypertension:

Hypertension: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Hypertension

Metabolic syndrome often undiagnosed: Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is an often overlooked medical condition that causes more »

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed more »

Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have more »

Unnecessary hysterectomies due to undiagnosed bleeding disorder in women: The bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's disease is quite common in women, but often fails to more »

Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, this undiagnosed condition can be fatal. It should more »

Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed, leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed. People become concerned that a condition is a heart attack, whereas there are various less more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure more »

Over-diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension in obese patients: A diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, particularly pulmonary arterial hypertension, is often a misdiagnosis in obese patients. more »

Obesity-related conditions undiagnosed in children: A variety of conditions are associated with obesity (see obesity), but these tend to be undiagnosed more often in child patients than in adults. Some of the more »

Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis is even more likely in children. Some of the more »

Hypertension: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Hypertension

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Hypertension:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Hypertension, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Hypertension: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Hypertension

  • Weight reduction
  • Reduction of alcohol intake
  • Reduction of sodium intake
  • Increased excercise
  • Reduction of particular stress
  • more treatments...»

Hypertension: Animations

Prognosis for Hypertension

Prognosis for Hypertension: The prognosis relies on the level of adherence to the treatment plan as well as the individual response to treatment.

Research about Hypertension

Visit our research pages for current research about Hypertension treatments.

Clinical Trials for Hypertension

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Hypertension include:

Prevention of Hypertension

Prevention information for Hypertension has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Hypertension.

Statistics for Hypertension

Hypertension: Broader Related Topics

Hypertension Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Hypertension, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Hypertension

Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels. Blood pressure that remains high over time is called hypertension. Extra fluid in your body increases the amount of fluid in your blood vessels and makes your blood pressure higher. Narrow or clogged blood vessels also raise blood pressure. (Source: excerpt from High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease: NIDDK)

Definitions of Hypertension:

Hypertension occurring without preexisting renal disease or known organic cause. - (Source - Diseases Database)

A common disorder in which blood pressure remains abnormally high (a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or greater) - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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