Hypertension is classified as either primary (or essential) hypertension or secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension has no specific origin but is strongly associated with lifestyle. It is responsible for 90 to 95 percent of diagnosed hypertension and is treated with stress management, changes in diet, increased physical activity, and medication (if needed). Secondary hypertension is responsible for 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed hypertension. It is caused by a preexisting medical condition such as congestive heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, or damage to the endocrine (hormone) system.
Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) may appear in otherwise healthy women after the twentieth week of pregnancy. It is more likely to occur in women who are overweight or obese. PIH may be mild or severe, and it is accompanied by water retention and protein in the urine. About 5 percent of PIH cases progress to preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is characterized by dizziness, headache, visual disturbance, abdominal pain, facial edema, poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Severe preeclampsia affects the mother's blood system, kidneys, brain, and other organs. In rare cases, the woman can die. Preeclampsia is more likely to occur during first pregnancies, multiple fetuses, in women with existing hypertension, and in women younger than twenty-five years old or over thirty-five years old. If convulsions occur with PIH, it is called eclampsia. PIH disappears within a few weeks after birth.