Is There an Underlying Cause for Your Hypertension?

Over 75 million or one out of every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, or hypertension.  For most, hypertension is the result of either genetic or lifestyle factors such as obesity or smoking, but for approximately 10% of Americans, hypertension is caused by the existence of another disease.

When hypertension is the result of another medical condition it is referred to as secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension can be caused by a variety of conditions that affect any number of different systems and organs. Some of the most common causes for secondary hypertension include:

  • Kidney disease -Secondary hypertension can be related to damaged kidneys or to an abnormal narrowing of one or both renal arteries.
  • Coarctation of the aorta.With this congenital defect, the body’s main artery (aorta) is narrowed (coarctation). This forces the heart to pump harder to get blood through the aorta and to the rest of your body. This in turn, raises blood pressure — particularly in your arms.
  • Adrenal disease – The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and produce several hormones that help regulate blood pressure. Sometimes, one or both adrenal glands make and secrete an excess of these hormones.
  • Hyperparathyroidism – The parathyroid glands regulate levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body. If the glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone, the amount of calcium in your blood rises — which triggers a rise in blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy –  Pregnancy can make existing high blood pressure worse, or may cause high blood pressure to develop (pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia).

Like primary hypertension, secondary hypertension usually has no specific signs or symptoms, even when your blood pressure has reached dangerously high levels.  Secondary hypertension can also worsen an underlying medical condition and lead to other serious complications, such as heart attack or stroke, if left untreated.

In most cases, once an underlying medical condition causing hypertension is identified and appropriate treatment is provided, your blood pressure will return to normal.

If you have a condition that can cause secondary hypertension, it is important to see your doctor and have your blood pressure checked regularly.

If you have hypertension and believe there is an underlying cause, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you do not have one, please call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to schedule an appointment.


All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.