Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

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What is hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmias, kidney disease, and problems with cognition. Hypertension is very common and affects nearly 1 in 3 adults in the US.


Hypertension is diagnosed when you have high blood pressure (systolic blood pressure/diastolic blood pressure  ≥140/90 mmHg) measured primarily in the clinic or office setting. You can also have hypertension diagnosed outside of the clinic or office setting using either ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (a device automatically measures your blood pressure every 15-30 minutes over a 24-hour period) or home blood pressure monitoring (you measure your blood pressure at home every day for few days to weeks).


There are two main effective ways that hypertension can be treated. The first is to have a healthy lifestyle (i.e. eating healthy diet, losing weight, increasing your physical activity level including exercising, etc). The second is to take medications that lower your blood pressure.

Types of Blood Pressure Conditions

What is uncontrolled and resistant hypertension?

Uncontrolled hypertension happens when you have a systolic blood pressure/diastolic blood pressure above goal (e.g., greater than 140/90 mmHg). Hypertension can be uncontrolled due to either not starting treatment or needing more intensive treatment.

Resistant hypertension happens when you have a severe form of hypertension defined as having one of the following:

  • A systolic blood pressure/diastolic blood pressure  ≥140/90 mmHg when you are taking 3 or more medications for high blood pressure
  • You are taking 4 or more medications for high blood pressure whether or not your blood pressure is uncontrolled or not.

What is secondary hypertension?

Secondary hypertension, also called identifiable hypertension, is high blood pressure that is caused by another medical condition. It differs from primary hypertension (also known as essential hypertension) which is not due to any clear, specific cause, and is instead thought to result from a combination of poor diet, lack of exercise, and genetics. Some possible causes of secondary hypertension include thyroid abnormalities, kidney diseases, adrenal tumors, sleep apnea, among several other causes.

What is labile blood pressure?

Labile blood pressure is blood pressure that can quickly change from high to low or low to high. There are a number of possible underlying causes of labile blood pressure including some secondary causes of hypertension.

What is orthostatic hypotension?

Orthostatic hypotension is a form of low blood pressure that happens when people sit or stand up. Symptoms of orthostatic hypotension can include feeling lightheaded or dizzy.