What is hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is defined in an adult as a blood pressure greater than, or equal to, 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure. Hypertension does not refer to being tense, nervous, or hyperactive. Optimal blood pressure for an adult is 120 mm Hg systolic and 80 mm Hg diastolic. Blood pressures are normally written as systolic/diastolic, such as 120/80.
In most cases, the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. This type of high blood pressure is called essential hypertension.
In the remaining cases (5%–10% of cases), high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, is a result of another health problem such as a kidney abnormality, tumor of the adrenal gland, or congenital defect of the aorta. Blood pressure usually returns to normal when the underlying cause is corrected.
Hypertension usually has no symptoms. Many people have high blood pressure and don’t know it. If hypertension is severe, symptoms may include:
Long-term consequences of uncontrolled hypertension:
High blood pressure directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke, especially along with other risk factors. Uncontrolled hypertension can also lead to renal failure.