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Essential hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that is not caused by a specific other disease. Because of this, it is also known as primary hypertension. This is in contrast to secondary hypertension, in which an initial illness leads to high blood pressure or arterial hypertension.

The underlying diseases of secondary hypertension are mostly kidney diseases or disorders of the endocrine system. Secondary hypertension is very rare compared to essential hypertension.


High blood pressure is a widespread disease nowadays. Around 35 million people across Germany suffer from some form of hypertension. The risk increases significantly with age. From the age of 65, every second person, regardless of gender, has high blood pressure.

But young people are also more and more often affected, and in most cases there is a connection with obesity. Similar to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which can be largely avoided through a healthy lifestyle.

Those who do not smoke, drink little alcohol, exercise regularly and eat healthily have a better chance of having optimal blood pressure in old age.

What are normal blood pressure readings?

The blood pressure values ​​are not constant in any person. Blood pressure also fluctuates depending on the time of day, physical condition and psychological situation. The average value that is considered the normal range is 120/80 mmHg.

The first value is the so-called systolic value, i.e. the blood pressure when the heart contracts. The second value is the diastolic blood pressure when the heart is relaxed. With values ​​of over 140/90 mmHg one speaks of high blood pressure.

Causes of Essential Hypertension

An exact cause cannot be determined for essential hypertension. However, it is known that high blood pressure is multifactorial. Lifestyle plays a major role in this. The following factors can contribute to essential hypertension:

  • Smoke
    Tobacco consumption has a negative effect on blood vessels and promotes arteriosclerosis. Nicotine increases the activity of the heart and at the same time constricts the blood vessels.
  • unhealthy diet and obesity
    In particular, the visceral fat, i.e. the fat pads in the abdominal area, have a negative effect on blood pressure. The fatty tissue absorbs the blood pressure lowering messenger substance ANP (atrial natriuretic peptide), which is why it is missing in the blood and can no longer develop its actual effect. Normally, ANP circulates in the blood, relaxes the muscles and stimulates the kidneys.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
    Apart from the fact that a lack of exercise often leads to obesity, it also has other negative effects on health. Regular exercise can often be very effective in lowering blood pressure. Types of endurance exercise, such as cycling, prove to be particularly effective here. The person concerned should be active 3 to 5 times a week for about 30 to 40 minutes each time.
  • high alcohol consumption
    Large amounts of alcohol acutely increase blood pressure. Anyone who constantly drinks a lot of alcohol increases their risk of high blood pressure significantly.
  • stress
    Persistent stress can lead to high blood pressure. The muscles of the blood vessels contract under the influence of the stress hormones catecholamines. The vascular resistance increases leading to an increase in blood pressure. It is controversial whether psychological stress is the trigger for chronic high blood pressure.

Symptoms of essential hypertension

People affected by arterial hypertension often live symptom-free for years. In many cases, high blood pressure is only diagnosed when there are complications. However, the following symptoms could be signs of high blood pressure:

  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • sleep disorders
  • a headache
  • dizziness
  • Arrhythmia

Regular routine examinations by the doctor are recommended, especially for people who are at greater risk due to their lifestyle, in order to be able to determine and treat high blood pressure in good time.


If high blood pressure is diagnosed, the person affected should reflect on their way of life and make changes if necessary. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise can help keep blood pressure under control. If these measures are not sufficient, drug treatment can be carried out after consultation with the doctor.

Changing bad habits

A healthy lifestyle is the most effective remedy for high blood pressure. Mild hypertension can often be reduced by changing lifestyle habits and drug treatment can be dispensed with.

To lower high blood pressure naturally, we recommend:

  • a healthy diet
  • the reduction in table salt consumption
  • the moderation of alcohol consumption
  • renouncing nicotine
  • sufficient exercise and sport
  • a daily routine with regular recovery phases

In people who suffer from severe hypertension, the values ​​can be lowered and the dosage of the drug can be reduced. However, the dose should only be changed under the supervision of a doctor.


Medicines can lower blood pressure but not cure the disease. If an affected person stops taking the drug, the values ​​usually rise again. Only by regularly taking antihypertensive drugs (blood pressure lowerers) can secondary diseases and the progression of the disease be avoided.

Dr. Anand AbbotIndependent medical advisor