What is the difference between primary (essential) and secondary hypertension (high blood pressure)?

Updated: Feb 22, 2019
  • Author: Matthew R Alexander, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Eric H Yang, MD  more...
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Answer

From another perspective, hypertension may be categorized as either essential or secondary. Primary (essential) hypertension is diagnosed in the absence of an identifiable secondary cause. Approximately 90-95% of adults with hypertension have primary hypertension, whereas secondary hypertension accounts for around 5-10% of the cases. [11] However, secondary forms of hypertension, such as primary hyperaldosteronism, account for 20% of resistant hypertension (hypertension in which BP is >140/90 mm Hg despite the use of medications from 3 or more drug classes, 1 of which is a thiazide diuretic).


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