Blood Pressure: Secondary Hypertension
What is secondary
The cause of
most cases of high blood pressure is
unknown. This kind of high blood pressure is
called essential hypertension. High blood
pressure caused by some other disease or
condition is called secondary hypertension.
Most cases of secondary hypertension are
related to kidney or hormonal problems.
Three or more
separate blood pressure readings higher than
140/90 indicate high blood pressure. The
upper, systolic (pumping) pressure may be
high; the lower, diastolic (resting)
pressure may be high; or both pressures may
How does it occur?
diseases, medical conditions, and
medications cause secondary hypertension,
the arteries in the kidneys
types of kidney disease
the aorta, a large blood vessel that
supplies blood to the entire body
secretion of a hormone called
aldosterone from the adrenal gland
tumor of the
syndrome, a disorder in which there is
an excessive amount of steroid hormones
in the blood
abuse of illicit drugs
What are the
pressure may not cause any symptoms. Even
secondary hypertension may have few
symptoms. Symptoms are usually general and
or an awareness of your heartbeat
feeling of ill health
frequent urination (if excessive
aldosterone levels are present)
"moon" face, excess body and facial
hair, and weight gain if the high blood
pressure is caused by Cushing's
How is it
care provider will ask about your symptoms
and medical history and will do a physical
exam. Tests of your blood, chest x-rays, and
an electrocardiogram may be ordered . Your
provider will want to measure your blood
pressure on two or three different days when
you are relaxed and not in a hurry and have
not had alcohol for 72 hours. The average of
these blood pressure measurements will be
history is an important part of diagnosis.
Your health care provider will ask about
your personal and family history of high
blood pressure and heart or kidney disease.
(S)he may also need to assess your weight
and height and conduct a complete physical
exam, to help identify the cause of the
hypertension. A fundoscopic eye exam may
also be necessary.
is it treated?
hypertension is treated by treating the
underlying cause. For example, if you have
high blood pressure caused by Cushing's
syndrome, treatment for Cushing's will
likely lower your blood pressure.
How long will the
If the cause
can be diagnosed and treated, your blood
pressure should improve. You may be able to
cut down or stop taking your medicines if
your underlying condition is treated.
How can I take
care of myself?
medications as prescribed. Don't
abruptly stop or decrease your
medications without asking your health
care provider. It is dangerous to
suddenly stop taking certain blood
salt and fat content in your diet
according to your health care provider's
provider's approval, start an exercise
program that you can do regularly (such
as biking or walking).
amount of alcohol you drink.
stress or learn to use stress management
blood pressure regularly. You can do it
yourself or have a health care
professional check it. Keep a chart of
health care provider as often as he or
What can be done
to help prevent secondary hypertension?
Most of the
conditions that cause secondary hypertension
cannot be prevented. However, regular
checkups can help detect many conditions
before they become serious, including those
that can result in high blood pressure.
Phyllis G. Cooper, R.N., M.N., and iMcKesson
Clinical Reference Products.
Published by iMcKesson Clinical Reference
Copyright © 1991-2000 iMcKesson LLC. All
Adapted from content provided
by iMcKesson, LLC
Review Date: 6/9/2001