Secondary Hypertension is a term use to describe the persistent elevation of blood pressure in the arteries that is cause by an underlying medical problem. Unlike primary hypertension which have no clear cause, secondary hypertension is link to conditions that affects the kidney, heart or endocrine system.

Some of the causes of secondary hypertension are:

  • Diabetes Complications (Diabetic Nephropathy)
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Glomerular Disease
  • Renovascular Hypertension
  • Cushing Syndrome
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Coarctation of the Aorta
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications and Supplements such as Pain Relievers, Birth Control Pills, Antidepressants and Drugs Used after Organ Transplants

The traditional symptom of hypertension is a systolic blood pressure (the higher of the two blood pressure numbers) which is 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or above, and the diastolic blood pressure (the lower blood pressure number) is 90 mm Hg or above. If a person has secondary hypertension, his or her high blood pressure doesn’t respond to any blood pressure medications. They may also experience other symptoms depending on the underlying cause such as:

  • Pheochromocytoma (tumor in the adrenal gland) – Symptoms may include sweating, palpitations, severe anxiety and weight loss.
  • Cushing’s syndrome – Symptoms may include weight gain, weakness, and loss of menstrual period in women and abnormal growth of body hair. There is also an appearance of purple stretch marks on the abdomen.
  • Hyperparathyroidism – Symptoms may include extreme tiredness, increased urination, constipation and kidney stones.


If the person is diagnosed with hypertension, the next step is to know the cause. After knowing the patient’s medical history, the doctor may look for physical signs and symptoms that may indicate other medical conditions. This may include abnormal hair growth and purple marks on the abdomen. Depending on the results of the physical exam, the doctor may order other tests such as blood and urine tests to confirm diagnosis. Imaging tests may help determine the condition of the internal parts and see if there are any problems that may cause the hypertension.



The treatment for secondary hypertension will most likely address the underlying cause. For example, surgery may be required to correct the problem with narrowed arteries and tumors. Antihypertensive drug therapy may also be used as addition to the treatment of the underlying disease.

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