Hypertension Home > Causes of Hypertension
When the causes of hypertension are unknown, this is called primary hypertension. When the causes are known -- such as preeclampsia, kidney disease, or certain medicines -- it is called secondary hypertension. Although not causes themselves, risk factors (such as being overweight) can increase a person's chances of developing the condition.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. In most people, the actual cause of their hypertension is not known. This is called primary, or essential, hypertension. In some people, their high blood pressure is the result of another medical problem or medication. In these cases, the condition is referred to as secondary hypertension.
If a person is diagnosed with hypertension, it doesn't mean that he or she is "too nervous," overanxious, or obsessive. High blood pressure is not nervous tension. In fact, many people who are perfectly calm have high blood pressure.
In 9 out of 10 people, there is no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This is called "primary hypertension" or "essential hypertension." Most people with primary hypertension don't even realize that they have it; the majority of people with this type of high blood pressure feel no different from those who have normal blood pressure. That's why hypertension is often referred to as "the silent killer."
In just 1 out of 10 people, the cause of high blood pressure is known. This is called secondary hypertension. Some conditions that can cause secondary hypertension include:
- Pheochromocytoma (a tumor of the adrenal gland)
- Aldosteronism (a condition in which adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone aldosterone)
- Hypothyroidism (the thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones)
- Hyperthyroidism (the thyroid produces an excess of hormones)
- Coarctation of the aorta (narrowing of the aorta)
- Hyperparathyroidism (excessive production of parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands)
- Acromegaly (a metabolic disorder caused by too much growth hormone)
- Cushing's syndrome (a hormonal disorder)
- Kidney disease (such as polycystic kidney disease or glomerulonephritis)
- Sleep apnea
- Certain medicines, such as birth control pills.