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Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure measurements are the result of the force of the blood produced by the heart and the size and condition of the arteries.
Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and usually given as two numbers. For example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg).
Either or both of these numbers may be too high.
What causes hypertension?
Blood pressure measurements are the result of the force of the blood produced by the heart and the size and condition of the arteries.
There are two types of high blood pressure:
1. Primary (essential) hypertension
In 90 to 95 percent of high blood pressure cases in adults, there's no identifiable cause. This type of high blood pressure, called essential hypertension or primary hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years.
2. Secondary hypertension
The other 5 to 10 percent of high blood pressure cases are caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension.
Many factors can affect blood pressure, including:
High blood pressure can affect all types of people. You have a higher risk of high blood pressure if you have a family history of the disease. High blood pressure is more common in African Americans than Caucasians. Smoking, obesity, and diabetes are all risk factors for hypertension.
Most of the time, no cause is identified. This is called essential hypertension.
High blood pressure that results from a specific condition, habit, or medication is called secondary hypertension. Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure. Secondary hypertension may also be due to:
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