Essential hypertension is blood pressure that is consistently higher than normal when no cause for the high blood pressure can be found. Most experts believe that essential hypertension is caused by several undiscovered factors, which may be why certain treatments lower blood pressure in some people but not others
Often, patients diagnosed with essential hypertension have no symptoms. Sometimes patients will experience a mild headache, tiredness, shortness of breath, confusion, dizziness, visual changes, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, perspiration, nose bleeds, pale or red skin and an angina-like pain in the chest. Rarely, the first symptom may be a stroke
There are no identifiable causes of essential hypertension, but there are several factors that can increase blood pressure, such as the amount of blood pumped by the heart, size and condition of the arteries, water and salt content of the body, condition of the kidneys, nervous system or blood vessels, and hormone levels in the body. Other factors can include stress, being overweight, smoking, alcohol use, a diet high in salt, heredity, gender, age and race
To diagnose essential hypertension, the doctor will first take the patient’s blood pressure during a health care visit. If blood pressure is high for three or more visits, the doctor may diagnose hypertension. The doctor may perform other tests for suspected causes such as urine and blood tests, a chest x-ray and an electrocardiogram. Essential hypertension may be diagnosed when no causes for the elevated blood pressure can be found.
The doctor may first recommend several life-style changes to bring down mild or even moderately high blood pressure. The patient may need to loss weight, eat a healthier diet and exercise to treat essential hypertension. The doctor may also advise the patient to quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption and reduce stress. If these lifestyle changes do not lower the patient’s blood pressure, the doctor may prescribe medicine such as diuretics (sometimes called water pills) that will reduce blood pressure. Other medications the doctor may prescribe include antihypertensives. Sometimes the first drug prescribed doesn't always work; the doctor may have to increase the dose, prescribe an additional drug, or substitute it with another one. In some cases, however, blood pressure remains persistently elevated despite drug therapy and lifestyle changes