What You Should Know About the Two Types of Hypertension

hypertension, things to know, Westmed Family Healthcare

Roughly one in three adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but only about half are managing their condition appropriately. High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death among Americans. Most people who have high blood pressure have no symptoms, but the condition silently damages your body. There are two types of hypertension. Understanding your condition is one of the first steps to getting your hypertension under control.

Hypertension 101

Hypertension refers to an elevated force against your artery walls as your heart pumps to circulate blood throughout your body. When the force becomes too strong, it can have detrimental effects on your body.

In a blood pressure reading, the top number, known as systolic pressure, refers to the force against your artery walls when the heart beats. Diastolic pressure, the bottom number, refers to the force against your arteries between beats when your heart is at rest.

A normal blood pressure is below 120/80 and above 90/60. As your blood pressure increases, so does the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

High blood pressure damages your arteries, causing them to become narrow and reducing blood flow. The damage can also cause your heart to become weak and pump less efficiently. Sustained elevated blood pressure can also damage your brain and your kidneys.

Treatment and lifestyle changes can help bring your blood pressure within a safe range. There are two types of hypertension, but the risks for both are the same.

Essential hypertension

Also known as primary hypertension, essential hypertension is high blood pressure that doesn’t have a known cause. About 90-95% of hypertension cases are classified as essential hypertension.

While doctors don’t know the exact cause of essential hypertension, it has been linked to certain risk factors. You’re more likely to develop primary hypertension if you have one or more of these risk factors:

The more risk factors you have, the higher the chances of developing primary hypertension.

Treatment for essential hypertension

Lifestyle changes are the cornerstone for treating essential hypertension. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with primary high blood pressure, your physician may recommend the following changes to help control your blood pressure:

Weight loss

Being overweight or obese puts a major strain on your circulatory system. As your weight increases, so does your blood pressure. The good news? Losing even a modest amount of weight can dramatically lower your blood pressure.


Being a couch potato is detrimental to many aspects of your health. Exercise makes your heart stronger, allowing it to pump more efficiently with less effort. When your heart pumps with less effort, your blood pressure decreases. Starting with something as simple as walking can have a positive impact on your blood pressure.

Adopting a heart-healthy diet

Adopting a healthy diet is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure. A heart-healthy diet is low in sodium and saturated fat and rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, heart-healthy fats, and lean protein.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet has these characteristics and is proven effective at lowering blood pressure. If diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your physician may prescribe medication to control your blood pressure.

Secondary hypertension

A diagnosis of secondary hypertension means that there is a condition causing your blood pressure to remain elevated. Conditions that can cause secondary hypertension include:

Secondary hypertension treatment

The treatment for secondary hypertension focuses on the underlying cause. People with thyroid disorders often find that their blood pressure normalizes when their thyroid condition is under control, for example.

Working with your doctor to treat the underlying cause can help bring your blood pressure within a safe range. Your physician may prescribe medication until the underlying cause is treated effectively.

The specialists at Westmed Family Healthcare can help you manage your blood pressure, improve your heart health, and lower your risk for serious complications. To learn more, call our Westminster, Colorado, office or book online to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.

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