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Secondary high blood pressure
is high blood pressure that is caused by another disease or condition. It can also be caused by certain medicines.
If your doctor thinks that you may have secondary high blood pressure, you may need tests to diagnose other health problems. Your doctor will also check the medicines that you take, because some medicines can cause high blood pressure as a side effect.
If your doctor can treat the cause of the high blood pressure, it might lower your blood pressure.
Secondary high blood pressure is not common. The risk of secondary high blood pressure is higher in children than in adults. In adults, it may cause high blood pressure in about 5 out of 100 people who have high blood pressure.footnote 1
Causes of secondary high blood pressure include:
Your doctor may suspect that you have secondary high blood pressure if:
Secondary high blood pressure is typically treated by treating the cause of the high blood pressure. Your treatment depends on what is causing your high blood pressure and whether the high blood pressure should be lowered as soon as possible to prevent problems.
If a health problem is the cause, this high blood pressure may return to normal when the other health problem is treated. But treating the condition that
has caused your secondary high blood pressure will not
always lower blood pressure back to a normal level. In this case, you may
need to treat the high blood pressure too.
If a medicine is the cause, this high blood pressure may return to normal if the medicine is stopped or the dose is adjusted.
Hormones play a big role in controlling your blood pressure. They send messages controlling your heart's output of blood, the
stiffness of your arteries, and changes in your blood volume. For example, your body releases certain hormones (such as
adrenaline) when it is under stress and needs more blood and
Secondary high blood pressure caused by hormone problems is rare.
Hormone problems that can cause secondary high blood pressure include:
Your kidneys are essential for blood pressure control. As
blood passes through your kidneys, special cells "measure" blood pressure in
the blood vessels leading to your kidneys (renal arteries) and adjust the
amount of the hormone renin that they secrete. Renin controls the
production of two other hormones, angiotensin and aldosterone. And these hormones control the width of your arteries and how much water and salt is moved out of the body. Both of these affect blood pressure.
If your renal arteries become narrowed from atherosclerosis (renal artery stenosis), less blood flows to the kidneys,
which causes blood pressure to rise.
Weber MA, et al. (2013). Clinical practice guidelines for the management of hypertension in the community. Journal of Clinical Hypertension. DOI: 10.1111/jch.12237. Accessed December 19, 2013.
Other Works Consulted
Atkins GB, et al. (2011). Diagnosis and treatment of hypertension. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's the Heart, 13th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1585–1605. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Schwartz GL (2010). Hypertension. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 3, chap. 12. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRobert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Current as ofApril 3, 2017
Current as of:
April 3, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
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