Primary vs Secondary Hypertension: Difference and Comparison

Hypertension is a very prevalent illness that may or may not have any cause behind it. In some cases, it can be due to any underlying cause. However, hypertension is broadly divided into primary and secondary hypertension.

It is based on knowing or unknown cause of the illness. Moreover, it can be chronic as it damages the heart and blood vessels, and it doesn’t show any symptoms. It can be fatal. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Primary or essential hypertension has no identifiable cause, while an underlying medical condition causes secondary hypertension.
  2. Primary hypertension is more common than secondary hypertension, which is relatively rare.
  3. Primary hypertension is treated with lifestyle modifications and medication, while secondary hypertension is treated by addressing the underlying medical condition.

Primary vs Secondary Hypertension

Primary hypertension is the most common form of hypertension and is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. An underlying medical condition, such as kidney disease, hormonal disorders, or the use of certain medications, cause secondary hypertension.

Primary vs Secondary Hypertension
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Primary hypertension is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 without any known cause. It is very common and is prevalent in 85% of people with high blood pressure.

Moreover, it is common in an individual’s family history. Usually, it is also associated with high BMI. Furthermore, the cause of primary hypertension is unknown. Since the cause is unknown, thus it is not possible to cure it. 

Secondary hypertension is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 with any known cause. It is very rare and is prevalent in 15% or fewer people with high blood pressure.

Moreover, it is uncommon in an individual’s family history. Usually, it is not associated with high BMI. Furthermore, the cause of secondary hypertension is known. Therefore, it is possible to cure the condition. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparison Primary Hypertension Secondary Hypertension 
Definition Primary hypertension is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 without any known cause.Secondary hypertension is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 with a known cause. 
CommonPrimary hypertension is quite common.Secondary hypertension is rare. 
Prevalent Primary hypertension is common in 85% of people with high blood pressure,Secondary hypertension is prevalent in 15% or fewer people with high blood pressure. 
Family history Primary hypertension is very common in family history.Secondary hypertension is not common among family history. 
High BMIHigh BMI is associated with primary hypertension.It doesn’t associate with secondary hypertension.

What is Primary Hypertension? 

Hypertension is very common among people. However, there are two types of hypertension, primary hypertension and secondary hypertension, based on known or unknown causes. Primary hypertension is also known as idiopathic hypertension. 

It is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 without any known causes. The symptoms associated with primary hypertension are severe headaches, vision problems, and dizziness.

Although, noticeable symptoms were only observed at a higher level of blood pressure. 

For diagnosis, a patient’s reading is noted three to four times, as well as possible causes are checked. However, there are no known causes traced, but there is sometimes a family history of hypertension present. 

Due to a family history of hypertension, a child of that family is most likely to have hypertension. Therefore, it is a risk factor for having a family history of hypertension.

Even a high BMI can lead to hypertension. Additionally, high salt intake and genes are all risk factors in the case of hypertension. 

Primary hypertension is not curable as there’s no known cause. But, the symptoms can be maintained at a healthier level, so it doesn’t interfere with normal life. 

Moreover, the treatment includes medications to lower blood pressure. Besides, lifestyle changes and exercise also help in maintaining it. And a lower intake of salt is considered an imminent change. 

primary hypertension

What is Secondary Hypertension? 

Secondary hypertension is another very rare type and is 15% or fewer people with high blood pressure. It is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 with any known cause.

The symptoms associated with primary hypertension are blurry vision, feeling of unsteadiness, bad headache, and dizziness. Although, symptoms were only evident at a higher level of blood pressure. 

For diagnosis, a patient’s reading is noted three to four times, as well as possible causes are checked. However, there is a known cause behind secondary hypertension.

Thus, the cause can be vascular problems of renal arteries and kidney diseases. Additionally, there can be other causes, such as adrenal tumours, excess alcohol consumption, and oral contraceptives.

Besides, it is uncommon in an individual’s family history. Usually, it is not associated with high BMI. Thus, genes are not one of the factors, but high salt intake can worsen the situation. 

People with adrenal problems, thyroid gland, and kidney issues can mostly lead to secondary hypertension. Additionally, alcohol consumption and oral contraceptive can also be risk factors. 

Secondary hypertension is curable as there is a known cause.  If the cause is cured, secondary hypertension is sometimes completely cured. Moreover, the treatment includes blood pressure medications. 

secondary hypertension 1

Main Differences between Primary and Secondary Hypertension 

Hypertension is a very common illness that can be chronic if unmanaged. It causes damage to the heart and blood vessels with no symptoms.

They are divided into primary and secondary hypertension based on causes. Primary and secondary hypertension is different from each other, however, people can’t tell them apart due to their shared similarities. 

  1. Primary hypertension is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 without any known cause. Meanwhile, secondary hypertension is defined as high blood pressure above 130 over 80 with a known cause. 
  2. Primary hypertension is quite common, while secondary hypertension is rare. 
  3. Primary hypertension is common in 85% of people with high blood pressure. Meanwhile, secondary hypertension is prevalent in 15% or fewer people with high blood pressure. 
  4. Primary hypertension is very common in family history, while secondary hypertension is not common in the family history. 
  5. High BMI is associated with primary hypertension, while it doesn’t associate with secondary hypertension.
Difference Between Primary and Secondary Hypertension
References
  1. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.hyp.16.1.89
  2. https://www.bmj.com/content/2/6035/554.short

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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