Step 3: What Causes High Blood Pressure?   Next Page

Although the exact cause of high blood pressure is almost always unknown, many different things can influence it. For example, your blood pressure is effected by what you eat, how much water and blood are in your body, and salt intake. Blood pressure is also influenced by the health of your kidneys and by certain hormones circulating in the body.

When the cause is NOT known

The term "essential" hypertension is used when the exact cause cannot be determined. Essential hypertension cannot be cured, but in most cases it can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication.

Learn More

Essential hypertension - genetic and other factors

When the cause is known

Sometimes high blood pressure can be attributed to a specific condition. In these cases, doctors call it "secondary" hypertension. Such causes include:

  • Tumors of the adrenal gland
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hormone abnormalities
  • Use of birth control pills
  • Pregnancy

Secondary hypertension is usually curable if its cause is treated. Read more about secondary hypertension.

Certain medications can also cause high blood pressure as a side effect. Make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of the medications you take.


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Review Date: June 3, 2003

Reviewed By: Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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