Essential Hypertension

By Dr. Cheng Han Chen
Updated 2024-03-29 22:43:39 | Published 2022-02-10 05:42:02
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An abstract illustration of Essential Hypertension

Essential Hypertension, also known as primary or idiopathic hypertension, is a common condition characterized by chronically elevated blood pressure levels.

Hypertension- causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

What is Essential Hypertension?

Essential hypertension, also known as primary hypertension, is high blood pressure with no identifiable cause. It develops gradually over many years and is the most common type of hypertension.

What causes Essential Hypertension?

The exact cause of essential hypertension is unknown. However, several factors increase the risk, including genetics, age, high salt intake, lack of physical activity, obesity, alcohol consumption, stress, and certain health conditions.

How is Essential Hypertension diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on blood pressure measurements taken on several different occasions. A consistent reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher is generally considered hypertensive. Further tests may be conducted to check for organ damage.

Can lifestyle changes help manage Essential Hypertension?

Yes, lifestyle changes are crucial in managing hypertension. These include maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, a balanced diet low in sodium and alcohol, stress reduction, and quitting smoking.

What medications are used to treat Essential Hypertension?

Various medications can treat essential hypertension, including diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers. The choice of medication depends on the individual's overall health and the presence of other conditions.

What are the complications of untreated Essential Hypertension?

Untreated essential hypertension can lead to serious health issues, including heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, weakened and narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys, thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes, metabolic syndrome, and trouble with memory or understanding.

How often should blood pressure be checked?

It is recommended for adults to have their blood pressure checked at least once every two years if previous readings were normal. If blood pressure is elevated, more frequent monitoring is necessary, as advised by a healthcare provider.

This condition typically develops over time and has no identifiable cause, but is believed to be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Common risk factors for essential hypertension include age, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, high salt intake, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease.

While essential hypertension may not cause noticeable symptoms initially, untreated or uncontrolled hypertension can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and vision problems.

Management and treatment of essential hypertension often involve lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, a balanced diet with reduced sodium intake, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and managing stress. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help control blood pressure levels.

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Essential Hypertension


  • Increase in blood pressure levels
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pounding in the chest, neck, or ears
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in urine
  • Persistent nosebleeds

Essential Hypertension


Essential hypertension, also known as primary hypertension or idiopathic hypertension, is a chronic medical condition characterized by persistently high blood pressure levels without any identifiable cause.


Essential hypertension typically does not present any noticeable symptoms. Therefore, it is often referred to as the silent killer. However, prolonged high blood pressure can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, and more.

Risk Factors

  • Family history of hypertension
  • Advanced age
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Unhealthy diet (high in salt, low in potassium)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Certain underlying medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, kidney disease)

Diagnostic Tests

Essential hypertension is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer, which consists of an inflatable cuff and a pressure gauge. Readings are obtained in two numbers, systolic pressure (top number) over diastolic pressure (bottom number). A series of blood pressure readings are taken over time to establish a diagnosis.

In addition to blood pressure measurements, healthcare professionals may also conduct other tests to assess organ damage and potential underlying causes, such as:

  • Urine test to check for protein and other abnormalities
  • Blood tests to evaluate kidney function, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, etc.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess heart health
  • Echocardiogram to assess the structure and function of the heart
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