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Tulane Doctors ~ Heart & Vascular Institute ~ Hypertension

blood pressure cuffHypertension is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure is elevated. It is also referred to as high blood pressure. The word "hypertension" by itself normally refers to systemic, arterial hypertension.

Hypertension can be classified as either essential (primary) or secondary. Essential or primary hypertension means that there is no medical cause that explains the raised blood pressure.  This describes about 90-95% of hypertension cases.  Secondary hypertension describes  high blood pressure as a result of  another condition.

Persistent hypertension is a major risk factor for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and arterial aneurysm, and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure.   Even moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure leads to shortened life expectancy.


Mild to moderate essential hypertension often has NO symptoms.  However, possible symptoms can include:  headache, sleepiness, confusion, visual disturbances, and nausea and vomiting.


While one of the most common disorders, essential hypertension has no known cause .  It is the most common type of hypertension, affecting 90-95% of hypertensive patients.   Although no direct cause has identified itself, there are many factors such as lack of exercise, stress,  potassium deficiency, obesity (most cases occur in people with a body mass index of more than 25), salt sensitivity,  alcohol intake,  and lack of vitamin D. Your risk of hypertension increases as you age and can be affected by your family genes.