The term "essential hypertension" refers to high blood pressure that has no direct cause, although it may be due to heredity or lifestyle factors, states MDGuidelines. The term "benign" referring to this condition is a misnomer because of what it implies, and the medical community no longer uses it.
Blood pressure measures the force against artery walls as the heart pumps blood throughout the body, says the New York Times. The readings appear as two numbers, such as 120 over 80. The first number is the systolic blood pressure, and the second number is the diastolic blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is 120 over 80 or below, and hypertension is when the reading is 140 over 90 or above. Individuals with readings in between these levels have pre-hypertension. It is normal for the blood pressure to be higher when under stress, so these measures apply when the blood pressure stays at these numbers throughout the day.
Most of the time, there are no initial symptoms of essential hypertension, reports the New York Times. Individuals usually find out about the condition after a medical checkup for other reasons. Because there are no symptoms, individuals who suffer from essential hypertension and allow it to go untreated can develop more serious conditions, such as heart and kidney diseases.