Your blood pressure may go up for a number of reasons. It may go up due to disease. But sometimes, it goes up for other reasons, which are not lasting.

A temporary increase in blood pressure may be caused by these factors:

  • certain medicines
  • excessive use of alcohol or caffeine
  • tobacco use
  • use of street drugs and stimulants such as amphetamines, cocaine, or anabolic steroids
  • stress
  • sudden or strenuous exercise

Other factors that can increase blood pressure include the following:

  • excess weight
  • too much salt or sodium in the diet
  • certain inherited conditions

If your blood pressure stays at an unhealthy level, however, your doctor may tell you that you have the condition called high blood pressure. The cause of your high blood pressure depends on your type of high blood pressure.

What are the types of high blood pressure?

Doctors classify high blood pressure into two types:

  • essential high blood pressure, which is also called primary high blood pressure
  • secondary high blood pressure

When the cause of high blood pressure is unknown, doctors call it essential high blood pressure. They may also call it primary high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, in 90% to 95% of the cases of high blood pressure, the underlying cause isn't known. See What causes essential, or primary, high blood pressure?

When the cause of high blood pressure is unknown, doctors call it essential high blood pressure. They may also call it primary high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, in 90% to 95% of the cases of high blood pressure, the underlying cause isn't known. See What causes essential, or primary, high blood pressure?

When high blood pressure is due to recognizable causes that may be treated or reversed, doctors call it secondary high blood pressure. See What causes secondary high blood pressure? to learn more. Often, if your underlying problem is treated, your blood pressure will return to normal.

Your doctor will evaluate your blood pressure readings that same way whether you have primary or secondary high blood pressure. See What do the numbers mean? to learn more.