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Tests Used to Diagnose Secondary High Blood Pressure

The following table lists the various tests used to confirm secondary high blood pressure and clarify its causes. Your doctor may use one or more of these tests for each condition depending on your individual situation. This is not a complete list of causes or tests.

Testing for secondary causes of high blood pressure

Secondary cause

Reasons to suspect

Test used to evaluate

Narrowing of the aorta (the artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body) Imaging of the aorta by one of the following:
Hardening or narrowing of the arteries in your kidneys (renal artery stenosis)
  • High blood pressure at a young age, particularly in women
  • Severe problems with your blood vessels in other parts of your body
A test that clearly shows the structure of your renal arteries:
Hormonal imbalances
  • Blood tests that show your hormone levels
Excess production of the hormone aldosterone, which regulates the salt and water balance in your kidneys
  • Blood or urine tests that show your hormone and potassium levels
A tumor in your adrenal glands (located just above your kidneys)
  • Specific blood (hormone) and urine tests
  • Specialized imaging studies
High blood pressure caused by a new medicine
  • You are taking a new medicine.
  • Review of your medicine list
  • Reevaluation of blood pressure when suspected agent is discontinued

High blood pressure caused by alcohol, cocaine, or amphetamines

  • You use cocaine, amphetamines, or excessive alcohol.
  • Reevaluation of blood pressure when suspected agent is discontinued

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerStephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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