Hypertension, as defined by the seventh report of the Joint National Committee (JNC7), is a systolic blood pressure (BP) more than 140 mmHg and a diastolic BP higher than 90 mmHg, based upon the average of two or more properly measured readings at each of two or more office visits after an initial screen.
Hypertension is called primary or essential when no cause is identified, and secondary when there is an identifiable cause.
Although there are no identifiable causes of primary HTN, there are certain factors that are known to increase the risk of developing HTN, such as advanced age, obesity, family history and African American race.
There are several known causes of secondary HTN, such as contraceptives and prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen). Several medical condition can cause secondary HTN, such as kidney disease, renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the artery that supply the kidney with blood) and some uncommon hormone-producing tumors.
It is very important to treat hypertension, since untreated hypertension, is a risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
There are several drugs available to treat HTN, however, non-drug therapy such as salt restriction, weight loss in overweight patients, diet rich in vegetables and fruits and regular exercise are important measures that can help lower blood pressure with or without drugs.
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