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Causes of Secondary Hypertension

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In about 10% of people, high blood pressure is caused by another disease. If that is the case, it is called secondary hypertension. In such cases, when the root cause is treated, blood pressure usually returns to normal or is significantly lowered. These causes include the following conditions:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tumors or other diseases of the adrenal gland
  • Coarctation of the aorta -- A narrowing of the aorta that you are born with that can cause high blood pressure in the arms
  • Pregnancy
  • Use of birth control pills
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Thyroid dysfunction

In the other 90% of cases, the cause of high blood pressure is not known (primary hypertension). Although the specific cause is unknown, certain factors are recognized as contributing to high blood pressure.

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Factors That Can't Be Changed

  • Age: The older you get, the greater the likelihood that you will develop high blood pressure, especially systolic, as your arteries get stiffer. This is largely due to arteriosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries."
  • Race: African-Americans have high blood pressure more often than whites. They develop high blood pressure at a younger age and develop more severe complications sooner.
  • Family history (heredity): The tendency to have high blood pressure appears to run in families.
  • Gender: Generally men have a greater likelihood of developing high blood pressure than women. This likelihood varies according to age and among various ethnic groups.
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