Definition of "transient hypertension"

Written by mario coccia
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Introduction
  • Introduction

    Definition of "transient hypertension"

    Hypertension refers to higher than normal blood pressure levels. The term "transient hypertension" signifies blood pressure that goes higher temporarily and later returns to normal. It also distinguishes this kind of hypertension from blood pressure that remains high all the time, which doctors generally refer to simply as hypertension.

    "White coat syndrome" can cause transient hypertension (blood pressure image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com)

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    Emotional and Environmental Causes

    The things we experience in daily life can cause responses in the body, such as adrenalin release, that result in transient increases in blood pressure. Such things include anything that causes stress, fear and similar feelings. For instance, if individuals get startled or scared, their blood pressure will increase to prepare them to take action. The American Heart Association's hypertension treatment guidelines, published in 2007, give the classic example of "white coat syndrome," in which the nervousness of being in the doctor's office causes the blood pressure to increase.

    Stress can increase blood pressure (stress image by DXfoto.com from Fotolia.com)

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    Physical Causes

    The intake of certain substances such as caffeine, nicotine and legal or illegal stimulants of various kinds may cause transient hypertension. When people intake these substance on a continuous basis, their blood pressure may remain high, since the offending substance remains with them. Physical exertion also increases blood pressure, but regular exercise does this in a good way, reducing resting blood pressure over time.

    Excerise increases blood pressure in a good way (exercise image by IKO from Fotolia.com)

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    Transient Hypertension of Pregnancy

    When blood pressure increases due to pregnancy, called preeclampsia, the blood pressure tends to remain high. However, if the high blood pressure resolves soon after giving birth, clinicians consider it transient, even if it endures for several weeks. Clinicians can distinguish transient hypertension of pregnancy from preeclampsia only in hindsight after it resolves.

    Pregnancy may cause transient hypertension in some women (amor maternal image by Leonardo Jerez from Fotolia.com)

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    Risks

    Transient hypertension represents the body's normal response to the things individuals experience and do. As such, it does not present a health risk. However, Dr. Iris Goldstein, in a 1999 study published in "Psychosomatic Medicine," noted chronic exposure to work-related stress might cause persistently high blood pressure readings, even on days off and at night, which suggests that chronic stress may reset the entire 24-hour blood pressure profile to a higher level. Moreover, if individuals have untreated chronic hypertension, which strains the small blood vessels in their heart, brain, eyes and other organs, the additional transient increases in blood pressure can result in damage to those organs, such as stroke in the brain.

    Untreated hypertension can damage the brain and other organs (Röntgenbild image by Marem from Fotolia.com)

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    Clinical Challenges

    Physicians do not treat transient hypertension, except in the case of transient hypertension of pregnancy, because they cannot distinguish it from preeclampsia. In the doctor's office, when clinicians measure blood pressure, they have to guard against the possibility of something causing transient hypertension and a falsely high blood pressure reading.

    Clinicians have to guard against falsely high blood pressure readings (doctor image by DXfoto.com from Fotolia.com)

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