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What Are the Causes of Secondary Hypertension?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2018
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The causes of secondary hypertension include obesity, alcohol abuse, use of certain medications, adrenal tumors, polycystic kidney disease, and pregnancy. Other causes include sleep apnea, thyroid problems, Cushing's syndrome, diabetes, and hyperparathyroidism. Other factors such as age, gender, race and heredity can be among the causes of secondary hypertension. Level of education and income are also among the causes of this disease. Treating the causes of secondary hypertension usually helps to lower blood pressure back to normal levels.

Secondary hypertension typically occurs when blood pressure becomes too high due to another medical condition. It's different from primary hypertension, which causes high blood pressure for reasons that probably have to do with heredity. Some of the causes of secondary hypertension can't be helped. These include race, gender, and age. Men are usually more like to develop this condition, as are people of African descent, and older people. Research has shown people with low incomes and education levels are more vulnerable to secondary hypertension than other people.

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Some of the more common causes of secondary hypertension include polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary disease that can cause cysts to grow in the kidneys. These cysts normally impair the normal functioning of the kidneys and can cause blood pressure to rise. Elevated blood pressure can also occur as a complication of diabetes, since that disease, too, can damage the kidneys. Renovascular hypertension, a condition that can narrow the arteries serving the kidneys, can also cause an unhealthy rise in blood pressure.

Obesity is often a serious risk factor for secondary hypertension, since excess body weight typically requires the body to manufacture more blood. Sleep apnea can also contribute to the condition, since it can deprive the body of necessary oxygen. Pregnancy can be among the causes of secondary hypertension, as can the use of birth control and a range of medications and dietary supplements.

Problems with the adrenal gland, pituitary gland, parathyroid, and thyroid glands can also cause secondary hypertension. Cushing's syndrome, a condition typically characterized by tumors on the pituitary gland, can cause secondary hyperthyroidism. Hyperparathryoidism, usually diagnosed when the parathyroid glands are overactive, is among the main causes of secondary hypertension. Dysfunction of the thyroid glands can also be responsible for elevated blood pressure, as can adrenal tumors.

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