Also known as high blood pressure

Hypertension is the medical or clinical term for high blood pressure. It is a very common medical problem and a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. In many instances, the very first sign of hypertension is a sudden heart attack or a stroke. This is why hypertension is often called "the silent killer."

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is pulmonary hypertension?

    Pulmonary hypertension is a serious condition that causes high blood pressure within the blood vessels that carry blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs (where it picks up oxygen). As a result, patients have problems breathing and feel weak and fatigued.

  • What causes hypertension?

    Primary (essential) hypertension has no known cause; although, there are factors, like older age and having a family history, that increase a person's risk for developing it. Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as sleep apnea, obesity, diabetes, or kidney disease.

  • What is essential hypertension?

    Essential hypertension, also called primary hypertension, is a common medical condition that does not usually cause symptoms but puts a person at risk for a heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. Unlike secondary hypertension, which is caused by an underlying medical condition, essential hypertension has no known cause.

  • What is a hypertension headache?

    Hypertension does not generally cause symptoms, including headaches. That said, some people may notice a change in or worsening of their headaches when their blood pressure is higher than usual. In rare instances, a headache may be indicative of a hypertensive crisis—this is a medical emergency and occurs when a patient's blood pressure reaches 180/120 mm Hg or higher.

Key Terms

Page Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High Blood Pressure.

  2. American Heart Association. What are the symptoms of high blood pressure? Updated October 31, 2016.

Additional Reading