Hypertension

Updated 06 October 2014

Causes of hypertension

Most hypertension has no known cause, but about 5% of hypertension can be traced to underlying diseases, such as kidney disorders or conditions that cause narrowing of the arteries of the kidney.

0
 Most hypertension has no known cause. This is known as primary or essential hypertension.

About 5% of hypertension can be traced to underlying diseases, such as kidney disorders or conditions that cause narrowing of the arteries of the kidney.

Hypertension is classified based on causes and characteristics.

There are two major types of hypertension and 5 subtypes.

The two major types are:

•    Primary or essential hypertension has no known cause and is diagnosed in about 95% of people. It has a strong genetic predisposition and is associated with poor lifestyle.
•    Secondary hypertension is often caused by specific diseases or factors (e.g. kidney damage) and is sometimes curable.

The other types include:

•    Malignant hypertension. Unless properly treated it is fatal within five years for the majority of patients. This occurs particularly in young black men.
•    Isolated systolic hypertension. This may occur in older people, and results from the age-related stiffening of the arteries. Treatment is of the utmost importance.
•    White coat hypertension. It means blood pressure is only high when tested by a health professional. Persistent hypertension may develop in time.
•    Resistant Hypertension. If blood pressure cannot be reduced to below 140/90 mmHg despite a triple-drug regime, resistant hypertension is considered.
•    Masked hypertension. This is the opposite of white coat hypertension and is present in 10% of hypertensives. Masked hypertension will damage the heart and blood vessels in exactly the same way as in untreated patients.

 (Reviewed and updated by Prof Brian Rayner, head of the division of nephrology and hypertension, University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Academic Hospital, November 2010)

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Hypertension expert

Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules