Essential Hypertension versus Secondary Hypertension

Man Measuring Blood Pressure At Home

Primary Hypertension also known as Essential Hypertension is simply high blood pressure without a known secondary cause.

Essential Hypertension

Typically if you’re diagnosed with hypertension, you usually have essential hypertension, unless their is an underlying cause, e.g. kidney disease.  There are a lot of options for for hypertension patients, typically the recommendation is to make lifestyle changes first to see if that lowers your high blood pressure.

Lifestyle Changes include:

  • Adhering to the DASH diet
  • Getting at least 150 minutes of exercise a week
  • Lowering Stress Levels
  • Losing Weight
  • Reducing Alcohol and Tobacco Use

The next set of options is medicine, there is a large variety of medicines that doctors have in the arsenal to combat high blood pressure.  However these should only be utilized after all the lifestyle updates have been exhausted.

Hypertension Treatment Medicines:

  • Diuretics
  • ACE inhibitors (Angiotensin-converting enzyme)
  • ARBs (Angiotensin II receptor blockers)
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Beta Blockers
  • Renin Inhibitors
  • Alpha Blockers
  • Alpha-beta Blockers
  • Central-acting agents
  • Vasodilators
  • Aldosterone antagonists


Usually doctors will try the most benign classes of medication first, starting with Diuretics. Then will move to other tools in their arsenal.  However, usually with a change in diet and adding moderate exercise to your routine, you may not require medicines at all.

If you want to learn more about treatment options please see our guide to understanding high blood pressure.

Secondary Hypertension

If there is an underlying cause, then what you have is secondary hypertension.

Causes of secondary hypertension include:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Cushing Syndrome
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis
  • Aldosteronism
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Thyroid problems
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Coarctation of the aorta

Treatment for secondary hypertension is focused on fixing the underlying issue; high blood pressure is just a symptom of the primary condition.

If you’re wanting some big win lifestyle tips on how to mitigate a lot of your health issues, checkout out our list of high efficiency lifestyle changes you can make for better health today.

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