Hypertension also referred to as high blood pressure, is a condition when the blood is consistently too high above the artery walls.

About Hypertension

Blood pressure (BP) is the force exerted by the heart against arteries within the body when delivering blood to meet metabolic requirements. If this is too high (hypertension) it can lead to ongoing health issues and damage to other organs such as brain, kidneys and heart.

The two numbers used for hypertension reflects the “workload or resistance” that the heart pushes against in order to circulate blood around the body.

When measuring blood pressure there are two numbers considered, the first, systolic, is the amount of pressure or force within the blood vessel when the heart contracts, which is called ventricular contraction.

The second, diastolic, is the pressure within the vessels when the heart rests between beats, referred to as ventricular relaxation. This results in two numbers that are used to explain and assess blood pressure in a patient. An example of this would be 120/80 mmHg (measured in millimetres of mercury).


High Blood Pressure Overview


Types of Hypertension

  • Primary hypertension: the cause is often unknown but may develop slowly over time, and 
  • Secondary hypertension: is usually found in the presence of other chronic conditions such as:
    • Obstructive sleep apnoea,
    • Kidney disease,
    • Adrenal tumours,
    • Medically induced through medications, or
    • Illicit drug use.1


Prevalence of Hypertension

Uncontrolled Hypertension is a common disease in Australia, with one in 10 people reporting having the condition. The prevalence amongst gender appears equally spread for males and females.  Hypertension is found in those aged more than 75 years old which is approximately 40% of all patients.

However, nearly three in four patients measured to have high blood pressure were either unaware of the condition or unconcerned of the potential impact that hypertension might cause regarding other health risks.2


Economic Impact of Hypertension

Uncontrolled Hypertension is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease (CVD), as well as chronic conditions that may be as a result of CVD such as kidney disease and stroke. 

The economic costs are difficult to calculate however in regards to CVD, in general, is a major contributor to hospital admissions, deaths, increased morbidity and significant effects on longevity and lifestyle. In 2013-14 in the USA, it was estimated that hypertension costs exceeded $50 billion USD and the economic cost associated with CVD was greater than $300 billion USD and therefore, should be considered a major health priority.3


Risk Factors for Hypertension

There are many factors that may increase the risk of uncontrolled hypertension. These include:

  • Age – As patients age, their blood vessels may lose elasticity and become stiff and thickened, which increases the pressure the heart must pump against to eject blood to meet cardiac output. 
  • Genetic – Hypertension can be a familial trait and there can be a strong genetic component to this condition. 
  • Lifestyle habits – Obesity and poor diets and limited exercise may contribute to the development of hypertension.
  • Diabetes Mellitus,
  • Specific medical conditions – Some endocrine disorders may cause hypertension, such as thyroid disorders, chronic kidney disease, and metabolic disorders.  
  • Smoking,
  • Cardiovascular disease,
  • Males are more likely to develop hypertension,
  • Pregnancy, and 
  • Socio-economic status – Hypertension rates are higher in less affluent groups when compared to areas with higher incomes.4


Complications of Hypertension

Uncontrolled Hypertension can have a number of serious complications that may impact on patients overall medical condition, such as:

  • Stroke, 
  • Heart Failure, 
  • Heart attack, 
  • Chronic kidney disease,
  • Aneurysm,
  • Peripheral arterial disease,
  • Vascular dementia, and 
  • Visual deterioration (due to increased intraocular pressures).5


Learn more about the symptoms and diagnosis of Hypertension here.


Patient Disclaimer: All content on the Hope For Hearts site is created and published online for general information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Please see your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.