Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure consistently above 140-159 mmHg and/or a diastolic blood pressure consistently above 90-99 mm Hg. The goal of treatment is to reduce or prevent the adverse effects of hypertension on various organs by reducing systolic blood pressure to less than 130 and diastolic blood pressure to less than 85 mmHg, without reducing a person's quality of life or causing adverse metabolic effects.
Hypertension is divided into two categories, primary and secondary. Ninety-five percent of individuals have primary, or essential, hypertension, which is high blood pressure with no known cause. The remaining 5%, with secondary hypertension, have an endocrine or renal abnormality such as a tumor of the adrenal glands or kidneys. Another cause of high blood pressure has been referred to as the "white coat syndrome." This is a temporary condition that occurs in some individuals when they are nervous or excited, like when making a visit to their health-care provider.
Blood pressure may also increase as we age. It is not abnormal for our resting blood pressure to increase because of arteriosclerosis.
(C) 1998 American College of Sports Medicine