Updated 07 July 2014

Primary hypertension

Primary hypertension is the same as essential hypertension - the most common type of hypertension.


The two major types are:

  • Primary or essential hypertension, that has no known cause, is diagnosed in the majority of people.
  • Secondary hypertension is often caused by reversible factors, and is sometimes curable.

Primary hypertension

This type is also called essential hypertension, and it is by far the most common type of hypertension, and is diagnosed in about 95% of cases.  Essential hypertension has no obvious or yet identifiable cause.

Heredity and lifestyle factors
Although the precise origin of primary hypertension is unknown, both genetic (50%) and environmental (50%) factors play a role.

Salt sensitivity, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle and a diet low in potassium and other nutrients must be considered.  Keep in mind that families not only share a ‘gene-pool’, but also many lifestyle habits.

The Silent Killer
It is this common type of hypertension that is responsible for the term, “the silent killer”. Unfortunately, it rarely causes symptoms or signs that could warn individuals. As a consequence, complications may occur before the hypertension is diagnosed and treated. Therefore, all adults must be screened for hypertension every 2 to 5 years.

(Dr Kathleen Coetzee, MBChB)

Read more:
When is blood pressure considered high?


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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.

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