Is It Essential to Change the Term "Essential Hypertension"? * Response: Is It Essential to Change the Term "Essential Hypertension" Academic Article uri icon


  • To the Editor: Barry Materson in the September issue of Hypertension proposes to change the term “essential hypertension” to “primary hypertension.”1 Is it right to correct one wrong with another? The clinical and scientific communities undoubtedly agree with Dr Materson, who agrees in turn with Dr Kaplan,2 that the term “essential” to describe hypertension of unknown cause is not an ideal term and is possibly misleading. “Essential” indeed implies to the lay person that hypertension is essential for survival in that particular patient with high blood pressure. However, a wise lay person would look in the dictionary for the full meaning of the term “essential” and come up with the interpretation of the phrase “essential hypertension” as an “idiopathic” disease. Looking in the same dictionary for the meaning of “idiopathic,” one would come up with the interpretation “of the nature of a primary morbid state,” And “primary,” a term to replace “essential” as suggested by Dr Materson, implies in turn “of the first order, whether …

publication date

  • December 1, 2004