Chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common disease in the United States. Over 80 million American adults have been diagnosed with this “silent killer,” which causes serious damage to your blood vessels and heart without triggering noticeable symptoms.
At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, our board-certified physicians offer a line of comprehensive services to keep patients in Aventura and Hollywood, Florida, healthy and well. One way we achieve this is through personalized hypertension management.
While most people have primary hypertension, a small percentage have a condition called secondary hypertension. The cause of secondary hypertension differs from primary hypertension and can signal a life-threatening health concern.
Learn what you need to know to protect your health by taking a closer look at secondary hypertension in this informative post.
What is secondary hypertension?
About 95% of people with high blood pressure have primary hypertension. No single known cause exists for this condition, but researchers know having one or more risk factors makes it more likely you’ll develop the disease. These factors include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Family history of hypertension
- Lack of physical activity (sedentary lifestyle)
- Being overweight or obese
- Not eating a healthy diet
- Unhealthy stress management
But for about 5% of people diagnosed with hypertension, an identifiable cause does exist. In this case, your high blood pressure is actually a symptom of an underlying health concern, which is why it’s called secondary hypertension.
Many things can trigger secondary hypertension. For example, certain medications can raise your blood pressure, including over-the-counter pain medications, stimulants, birth control pills, diet pills, decongestants, and some antidepressants.
Sometimes, though, the cause of secondary hypertension is a serious medical condition. Some of the most common conditions that trigger secondary hypertension include:
- Thyroid diseases
- Kidney disease
- Adrenal disease
- Narrowing of the aorta
- Heart disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Less common causes, such as Cushing’s syndrome and pheochromocytoma, also exist. As such, it’s important to see a medical doctor for help diagnosing the underlying reason you may have secondary hypertension.
How can I tell if I have secondary hypertension?
Chronic high blood pressure causes damage to your delicate cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of stroke and heart disease. But this silent killer does this without causing any noticeable symptoms.
That’s why having your blood pressure checked at least once each year is essential for your health. At our two Florida locations, we can diagnose hypertension and help improve your numbers.
When you’re first diagnosed with chronic high blood pressure, it’s not easy to know if you have primary or secondary hypertension. It may take some time for us to determine which type of hypertension you have.
Some signs you have secondary hypertension may include:
- Being under 30 or over 55 and having a sudden onset of hypertension
- Not having a family history of high blood pressure
- Having extremely high blood pressure
- Developing high blood pressure with risk factors for hypertension
- Having high blood pressure that doesn’t improve with medication
We may also evaluate you for secondary hypertension if you have high blood pressure that stops responding to previously effective medication.
How is secondary hypertension treated?
If you have secondary hypertension, it’s necessary to both treat your high blood pressure and treat or manage the underlying condition causing your numbers to rise.
At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, we work with you to get the diagnosis of the condition causing your high blood pressure so you can begin effective treatment. In addition, we address your hypertension.
The good news is that many strategies that help primary hypertension work to improve or control secondary hypertension, including:
- Taking medications for high blood pressure
- Improving your diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Learning and practicing healthy stress management strategies
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
Whether you have primary or secondary hypertension, it’s also important to see us for regular screenings to monitor your progress. As your blood pressure improves — or if it doesn’t — we adjust your treatments to improve your health.
Do you have more questions about secondary hypertension? Schedule an appointment with us today.