Hypertension, also referred to as high blood pressure, HTN or HPN, is a medical condition in which the blood pressure is chronically elevated. In current usage, the word "hypertension" without a qualifier normally refers to systemic, arterial hypertension.
Hypertension can be classified as either essential (primary) or secondary. Essential hypertension indicates that no specific medical cause can be found to explain a patient's condition. About 90-95% of hypertension is essential hypertension. Secondary hypertension indicates that the high blood pressure is a result of (i.e., secondary to) another condition, such as kidney disease or tumours (adrenal adenoma or pheochromocytoma).
Persistent hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and arterial aneurysm, and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure. Even moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure leads to shortened life expectancy. At severely high pressures, defined as mean arterial pressures 50% or more above average, a person can expect to live no more than a few years unless appropriately treated. Beginning at a systolic pressure (which is peak pressure in the arteries, which occurs near the end of the cardiac cycle when the ventricles are contracting) of 115 mmHg and diastolic pressure (which is minimum pressure in the arteries, which occurs near the beginning of the cardiac cycle when the ventricles are filled with blood) of 75 mmHg (commonly written as 115/75 mmHg), cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk doubles for each increment of 20/10 mmHg.
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