What Is Benign Hypertension?

Benign hypertension refers to slow-developing high blood pressure.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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Benign hypertension is a medical term used to describe a form of high blood pressure that tends to develop slowly and may not cause any noticeable symptoms for a number of years. Due to the slow progression of this disease, it is difficult to diagnose and may cause gradual damage to various organs of the body. Mild symptoms, such as headache or nausea, may be present before this condition is diagnosed, but these symptoms are often explained away as having some other cause. Once benign hypertension is diagnosed, treatment usually consists of a combination of dietary changes, lifestyle modification, and perhaps the use of prescription medications.

Due to the difficulty in diagnosing benign hypertension, prevention is the best course of action. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an ideal weight are critical in preventing high blood pressure. A moderate exercise program is generally recommended for those who are healthy enough to exercise. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided in those at risk of developing benign hypertension. Regular doctor visits can also help to detect any patterns of increasing blood pressure levels so that medications can be prescribed before any serious damage occurs to the heart or other organs of the body.

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Those with a family history of high blood pressure should be especially diligent in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Patients with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, may be prescribed medications aimed at regulating blood pressure, even if benign hypertension has not been diagnosed. It is usually recommended that a healthy person has blood pressure levels checked at least once per year.

Eventually, benign hypertension almost always leads to a condition known as malignant hypertension. This means that the blood pressure becomes noticeably high, and organ damage may begin to become apparent. When this occurs, prescription medications may be given in addition to the recommended dietary and lifestyle changes. In some cases, these medications may be discontinued after the patient adopts a healthier lifestyle. In other situations, these drugs may have to be taken for the life of the patient.

The chief dangers of high blood pressure are the increased risks of having a heart attack or a stroke. Both of these conditions can be potentially fatal and are often completely preventable. A simple trip to a doctor can help assess individual risks of developing benign hypertension, and a treatment plan can be devised based on individual needs.

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Discuss this Article

burcidi
Post 6

@ZipLine-- Has your sister had her spinal fluid measured? Sometimes this fluid is elevated in people with benign hypertension and is the cause of headaches, ear and eye problems.

If her symptoms don't get better, she will probably have to get a lumbar puncture to have the spinal fluid measured. If it's high, some of it can be drained to relieve the pressure. I have benign hypertension too and I've had to have this procedure two times so far.

ysmina
Post 5

@ZipLine-- What you described are the first recommendations that doctors make for this condition. They believe that losing weight will relieve a lot of the symptoms. It is frustrating but that's the way it is.

ZipLine
Post 4

How is benign hypertension usually treated?

When someone is diagnosed with it, shouldn't they be prescribed a blood pressure reducing medication?

My sister was diagnosed with benign hypertension a few weeks ago. Her doctor has just given her a pain reliever for the migraines and have told her to lose weight.

If this form of hypertension is dangerous because it develops slowly and damages organs, shouldn't it be treated with blood pressure medications right away? I don't understand.

indigomoth
Post 3

It's interesting that they call it benign hypertension, because benign generally means that it doesn't do any harm, but it sounds like this only seems like it doesn't do any harm at first.

It seems like every time I go to the doctor they check my blood pressure levels, even if I'm there for something that's not remotely related to blood pressure, so I guess this isn't the the kind of thing that is going to creep up on me.

bythewell
Post 2

@MrsPramm - People tend to think that this is the solution for everyone, and unfortunately, it isn't. For one thing, people can develop hypertension even if they have been exercising a fair amount. Sometimes it's just a genetic thing. Sometimes there is another underlying cause.

And for another, some people simply cannot exercise that much.

They might have a condition that doesn't allow them to do so or they might simply not have the time. So other solutions are worth looking at as well, rather than just lumping it all into the one solution that might not work for everyone.

MrsPramm
Post 1

In my opinion, the exercise is the most important part. Diets come and go, and whatever the doctors are recommending today might not be the same thing they recommend tomorrow. Although a varied diet should generally be a good idea.

But exercise has continually been shown to be beneficial in almost every area of people's lives. And even a little bit of exercise per day will help someone to reduce hypertension.

It makes a lot of sense, really. We aren't made to sit around and not exercise the way many people do. The modern lifestyle needs to start accommodating some form of exercise into it. Even being able to stand at a desk, instead of sit, or walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift, is a good idea.

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