For a lot of people with chronically-high blood pressure, there is no single cause that can be pinpointed. It just steadily rises over the years. When this happens, doctors call it primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that is caused by an underlying condition like thyroid problems, sleep apnea, adrenal cancer, kidney damage, congenital blood vessel defects, and alcohol or drug abuse.
Most doctors recommend that patients with hypertension start with lifestyle changes. Eating a better diet, exercising, stopping alcohol or drug use, losing weight, and quitting smoking can be enough to lower blood pressure. For some people, this isn’t enough, in which case medications may be prescribed. Some hypertension drugs are diuretics, which eliminate more fluids from the body. Others dilate blood vessels, and still others relax blood vessels or slow the beating of the heart.
Treatment with high blood pressure medications is not always ideal. They may cause side effects like gastrointestinal upset, headaches, rashes, fatigue, nervousness, dizziness, a cough, sexual dysfunction, and nausea. You can also become dependent on these medications instead of making important lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure naturally. In fact, newer research has found that treating early or pre-hypertension is not necessary and that the benefits of medication do not outweigh the risks.