The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Hypertension

If you’re one of the 80 million Americans struggling with chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension, you probably know the dangers this condition brings. Known as the “silent killer,” unmanaged hypertension causes damage to your heart and blood vessels — usually without symptoms.    

But did you know there are different types of hypertension? Primary and secondary hypertension can both lead to serious medical conditions, like heart disease and stroke, but there are key differences between them.

At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, our team of highly skilled physicians is committed to helping our patients live healthy, full lives. We offer a complete line of internal medicine services, including diagnosing and treating both primary and secondary hypertension.  

Take a moment to learn about the differences between primary and secondary hypertension and the treatment options available.

About primary hypertension

When people talk about chronic high blood pressure, they’re most often referring to primary hypertension. That’s because primary hypertension, also referred to as essential hypertension, accounts for about 95% of hypertension. 

Primary hypertension does not have a single known cause, but certain risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition, including:

Since high blood pressure can develop for no identifiable reason, it’s important to have your blood pressure evaluated at least once each year. Early diagnosis facilitates early treatment, which can stop further damage to your blood vessels.

About secondary hypertension

Unlike primary hypertension, secondary hypertension develops because of an underlying medical condition or disease. Secondary hypertension is rare, affecting about only 5% of people with chronic high blood pressure. 

While many different underlying conditions can cause secondary hypertension, some of the more common include:

The side effects of some medications can also contribute to secondary hypertension, including birth control pills, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen and aspirin), stimulants, some antidepressants, decongestants, and diet pills. 

Symptoms of primary and secondary hypertension

Both primary and secondary hypertension can occur without specific symptoms or signs. This is true even when your blood pressure reaches dangerously high numbers. 

But there may be some indications that your chronic high blood pressure is secondary hypertension. These include:

If you have any of these signs of secondary hypertension, discuss them with your provider at Beth and Howard Braver, MD, as you may need more frequent blood pressure checks. 

Treatment for hypertension

At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, we create a treatment plan for your hypertension based on your medical history, current lifestyle, and type of blood pressure. For patients with secondary hypertension, it’s essential to treat or manage the underlying medical condition.

Many treatments for primary hypertension are also effective at controlling secondary hypertension. These include:

Call or book online for an appointment at either our Aventura or Hollywood, Florida, office to learn more about hypertension and treatment options. We offer telemedicine appointments in addition to in-office visits.

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