Primary hypertension occurs when the blood pressure in your arteries is too high. This makes your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body. High blood pressure rarely causes symptoms, but the damage it does to your arteries can be severe. Left untreated, it can lead to heart attack, kidney failure, and stroke. Unchecked high blood pressure can also damage your vision and memory. It is associated with erectile dysfunction.
Primary hypertension can be treated by your primary care doctors with lifestyle changes -- including maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a healthy diet that is low in salt, exercising, and limiting alcohol -- and antihypertensive medications. However, you may be referred to a high blood pressure specialist if resistant or secondary hypertension is present.
Resistant hypertension occurs when three or more antihypertensive medications fail to bring your high blood pressure under control. People more likely to experience resistant hypertension include:
- African Americans
- People with diabetes
- People with obesity
Allergies to or side effects from certain medications can also increase blood pressure. Common medications that can increase blood pressure include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
- Oral contraceptives
- Cold and cough medicines including nasal decongestants
- Herbal supplements such as ginseng and licorice
- Stimulants like caffeine, ADHD medications
Sometimes an underlying condition is responsible for your high blood pressure. This is known as secondary hypertension. Conditions that contribute to secondary hypertension include: