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Classification of Hypertension

12 May 2007

Hypertension is divided into primary hypertension where there is no identifiable cause and secondary hypertension where a cause can be determined. Primary hypertension is more common. The aetiology of secondary hypertension includes renal disease, endocrine illness, coarctation of the aorta, renovascular disease and drugs. Renal disease is the most common cause of secondary hypertension.


The level of blood pressure at which a person is define as hypertensive is a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or more, diastolic blood pressure of 90 and above or taking antihypertensive medication.

The following classification of raised blood pressure is taken from The Sixth Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood pressure (JNC VI).

It defines the grades of blood pressure according to its severity. It is based on blood pressure for adults aged 18 and older who are not on treatment for high blood pressure. The blood pressure is taken from an average of two or more blood pressure readings measured at two or more visits after the initial visit.  

Category Systolic (mm Hg)   Diastolic (mm Hg)
Optimal <120 and <80
Normal <130 and <85
High normal 130-139 or 85-89
Hypertension      
Stage 1 140-159 or 90-99
Stage 2 160-179 or 100-109
Stage 3 >=180 or >=110


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