When it comes to high blood pressure, the warning signs are subtle, if they appear at all. Yet millions of Americans are in a silent battle with this unseen disease, which threatens the health of your heart and blood vessels.
Our board-certified physicians at Beth and Howard Braver, MD are dedicated to helping patients in Aventura and Hollywood, Florida, live healthy, full lives — including taking on the invisible threat of primary and secondary hypertension.
Find out more about the differences between primary and secondary hypertension and the treatment options that can help you reclaim control of your health.
Types of hypertension
You’ve heard of hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure, which affects over 80 million Americans. But this silent killer damages your blood vessels and heart, usually without symptoms, making it a threat to your health.
You may not know that there are two different types of hypertension: primary and secondary. Both of these types can lead to serious medical conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Though these are both forms of chronic high blood pressure, there are key differences between the two.
Primary hypertension, also called essential hypertension, makes up about 95% of all hypertension. This means that most people are talking about primary hypertension if they refer to chronic high blood pressure.
There is no single known cause for primary hypertension, but there are certain risk factors that increase your chances of developing the condition. These include:
- Family history of primary hypertension
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a poor diet
- Not managing stress
It’s important to have your blood pressure checked at least once a year, because high blood pressure can develop for no understandable reason. Early diagnosis means early treatment, which can prevent more damage to your blood vessels.
Secondary hypertension develops due to an underlying medical condition or disease. Only about 5% of people with chronic high blood pressure have secondary hypertension, making it rare.
There are many different underlying conditions that can cause secondary hypertension. Some of the most common include:
- Kidney disease
- Adrenal disease
- Thyroid disease
- Tightening of the aorta
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Some medications cause side effects that may contribute to secondary hypertension. These medicines include birth control pills, stimulants, some antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (like ibuprofen and aspirin), diet pills, and decongestants.
Symptoms of chronic high blood pressure
Hypertension of both types can occur without symptoms or signs, even when your blood pressure reaches dangerously high numbers.
But there may be some signs that chronic high blood pressure is secondary hypertension. These signs include:
- Extremely high blood pressure
- Blood pressure doesn’t respond to medication or stops responding to medication that worked previously
- No excess weight or obesity
- No family history of high blood pressure
- A sudden onset of hypertension before age 30 or after 55
If you’re experiencing any of these signs of secondary hypertension, discuss them with us at Beth and Howard Braver, MD. You may need more frequent blood pressure checks to monitor your health.
How we help you manage your hypertension
We create a personalized treatment plan for your hypertension based on your current lifestyle, medical history, and type of blood pressure. Treating the underlying medical condition is essential for patients with secondary hypertension.
Treatments for both primary and secondary hypertension include:
- Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and incorporating regular exercise
- Practicing stress management, such as breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation
- Stopping poor habits, such as smoking and consuming too much alcohol
- Taking medications to improve blood flow by relaxing your blood vessels
- Screening blood pressure regularly to follow your progress and adjusting your treatment plan as needed
If you’re ready to learn more about the two types of hypertension, we can help. Give us a call at the office nearest you to book an appointment today.