Understanding Special Types of High Blood Pressure

Learn to monitor each kind of hypertension

When people use the term "high blood pressure," they are usually referring to either primary hypertension or secondary hypertension. These two types of high blood pressure account for over 90 percent of all high blood pressure diagnoses. There are, however, several types of high blood pressure that are less common but no less important. While some of these special types of high blood pressure are uncommon, some can arise as complications of primary high blood pressure, which means it is important to know how to monitor your condition and what signs to watch for.

1
Whitecoat Hypertension

Doctor checks man's blood pressure
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Whitecoat hypertension is an interesting and fairly common form of high blood pressure that only occurs during visits to the doctor. People with whitecoat hypertension may have normal blood pressure at home, but consistently have elevated readings at the doctor's office. Sometimes this is a type of stress reaction, but it may signal a more serious underlying problem. Because of this, whitecoat hypertension should always be evaluated by a doctor.

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2
Pseudohypertension

Woman checking blood pressure in living room
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Pseudohypertension makes people with normal blood pressure appear as though they have high blood pressure. Normal blood pressure measuring techniques will show readings that are sometimes alarmingly high, and attempts to treat the "high" blood pressure actually cause the blood pressure to drop too low, leading to dizziness, confusion and fainting. This condition is relatively uncommon, but the risk increases as we get older.

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3
Malignant Hypertension

Doctor measuring blood pressure of man in hospital
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Malignant hypertension is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease. It causes a wide variety of dangerous effects such as kidney damage, liver failure, retinal bleeding and brain damage. Malignant hypertension can develop very quickly and rapidly causes organ damage and dangerous side effects. Its symptoms can mimic those of other diseases, so prompt medical attention is critical.

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4
Pulmonary Hypertension

Caregiver taking blood pressure of older man in wheelchair
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Pulmonary hypertension is a unique condition because, unlike any other form of high blood pressure, it affects only a specific part of the circulatory system. Despite this, pulmonary hypertension is very dangerous because it affects the part of the circulatory system that connects the heart and lungs - interfering with the lungs' ability to transfer oxygen and the heart's ability to pump blood. Pulmonary hypertension is deadly if left untreated, but those who receive proper treatment have a much better prognosis.

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5
Resistant Hypertension

Senior man examining and looking down
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Resistant hypertension starts out as "regular" hypertension, but does not respond to treatment. Despite what should be adequate therapy, the blood pressure remains high. The causes of resistant hypertension are varied, and it is important for doctors to work carefully with patients who have the disease. If the doctor and patient work together, there are some very effective treatment options for cases of resistant hypertension.

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