Secondary High Blood Pressure (Secondary Hypertension)
Between 5% and 10% of all cases of high blood pressure are caused by other medical problems and are this form of the condition is known as secondary high blood pressure (secondary hypertension).
Here are some of the medical conditions that can give rise to secondary high blood pressure:
- Aldosteronism. Aldosteronism is a condition in which the adrenal glands secrete an excessive of amount of the hormone aldosterone resulting in the retention of salt and water and the loss of potassium from the kidneys.
- Coarctation of the aorta. Coarctation of the aorta is a congenital defect of the aorta (the main artery of the body) resulting in a constriction (coarctation) of the aorta thus forcing the heart to pump harder and raising the blood pressure.
- Cushing's Disease. Cushing's disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. There are a variety of causes for this condition including a pituitary tumor and a reaction to corticosteroid medications.
- Diabetic Nephropathy. Diabetes can cause damage to the kidneys by attacking the fine network of millions of tiny blood vessels which filter waste products from the blood.
- Glomular Disease. Within the millions of tiny blood vessels contained in the kidneys, microscopic filters known as glomeruli filter waste products from the blood. However, in the case of glomular disease the glomeruli become inflamed and cause the blood pressure to rise.
- Hydronephrosis. Hydronephrosis occurs when parts of one or both kidneys becomes blocked impeding the flow of urine and raising the blood pressure.
- Hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid gland secrete excessive parathyroid hormone, causes calcium levels in the blood to rise.
- Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This can also result in an increase in the activity of epinephrine and norepinephrine.
- Hypothyroisism. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroid hormone.
- Medication and Supplements. A number of prescription medications ranging from simple pain killers to anti-depressants and organ transplant drugs can raise blood pressure, as can the birth control pill, decongestants and several over-the-counter medications. Herbal supplements such as ginseng and St. John's wort can also increase blood pressure.
- Obesity. As your body increases in size the amount of blood circulating in the body also increases putting added pressure on the artery walls. Additionally, heart rate also often rises as weight rises and the blood vessels develop a lower capacity to transport blood.
- Pheochromocytoma. Pheochromocytoma is a rare condition in which a tumor in the adrenal gland causes the excessive production of both adrenaline and noradrenaline.
- Polycystic Kidney Disease. Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited condition in which cysts in the kidneys interfere with the process of blood filtering.
- Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a common complication of pregnancy which normally develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and is characterized by the release of protein into the urine and a rise in blood pressure.
- Renovascular Hypertension. Renovascular hypertension, which can lead to extremely high blood pressure, occurs when one or both of the renal arteries is narrowed (stenosis). This is normally caused by the deposition of fatty plaques within the arteries or when the walls of the arteries thicken and harden to form a series of rings (fibromuscular dysplasia).
- Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is frequently interrupted during sleep leading to episodic oxygen deprivation which damages the cellular lining of the blood vessel walls and resulting in a loss of the elasticity needed to regulate blood pressure.
Secondary high blood pressure usually returns to normal (or is markedly reduced) when the underlying condition is effectively treated. However, even where this is not possible, or where treatment is only partially successful, secondary hypertension can often be considerably reduced through diet and exercise.
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