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High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, commonly referred to as "high blood pressure" or HTN, is a medical condition in which the blood pressure is chronically elevated.[1] While it is formally called arterial hypertension, the word "hypertension" without a qualifier usually refers to 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. Secondary hypertension indicates that the high blood pressure is a result of (i.e. secondary to) another condition, such as kidney disease or certain tumors (especially of the adrenal gland). 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, mean arterial pressures 50% or more above average, a person can expect to live no more than a few years unless appropriately treated.[2]

Hypertension is considered to be present when a person's systolic blood pressure is consistently 140 mmHg or greater, and/or their diastolic blood pressure is consistently 90 mmHg or greater.[3] Recently, as of 2003, the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure[4] has defined blood pressure 120/80 mmHg to 139/89 mmHg as "prehypertension." Prehypertension is not a disease category; rather, it is a designation chosen to identify individuals at high risk of developing hypertension. The Mayo Clinic website specifies blood pressure is "normal if it's below 120/80" but that "some data indicate that 115/75 mm Hg should be the gold standard." In patients with diabetes mellitus or kidney disease studies have shown that blood pressure over 130/80 mmHg should be considered high and warrants further treatment. Even lower numbers are considered diagnostic using home blood pressure monitoring devices.

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